Spoof cop chop shop


Directed by Tom Dey

(Robert Deniro, Eddie Murphy, Rene Russo)


Robert DeNiro’s reputation is at stake.

He wonders how his colleagues will ever respect him after starring in the reality-based buddy-cop show Showtime. We’re talking about his character, of course, but we might as well be talking about the actor himself.

DeNiro’s deadpan performance in the Showtime, opposite a manic Eddie Murphy, blurs the line between reality and irony. The film intends to spoof reality television and buddy cop films in its story of a badly paired cop partnership that finds itself in the constant, unblinking eye of the television camera. It is often difficult to believe that this movie is supposed to be a parody at all, with its action-packed scenes littered with big guns and bigger explosions.

It’s exhausting to watch Murphy’s face contort like a heated rubber band while DeNiro’s eyebrow raises as though controlled by a puppeteer. When television executive Rene Russo repeatedly proclaims “Now that’s great television!” after every near-death situation and William Shatner (as a former television detective) explores the “subtleties” of cop drama by flipping across a car hood like a fish on a boat deck, the irony has become so obvious that it is merely cheap.

Still, Showtime has its pleasures. One scene, in which Murphy’s character poses as a Johnnie-Cochran-like television show host in order to hustle information from an inmate, he gives hope for a retreat from his blockbuster movies to his days of stand-up and Saturday Night Live.

As for DeNiro, Showtime has added to his recent string of movies (Meet the Parents, Analyze This) in which he makes fun of the “You lookin’ at me?” persona made famous in earlier films like Taxi Driver. Even though he seems to try his hardest to provide an honest characterization, he gives in and does a cliched cop-show “hood jump” at the climax of the movie’s action orgy.

How will Robert DeNiro’s reputation ever survive great television like this?

– Jahna Peloquin


Showtime opens this Friday.