Edition - 2002 (2002) - Warner
by Graham Greenlee of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
95 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 52:26), audio
commentary with Tom Dey and Jorge Saralegui, behind-the-scenes
featurette, deleted scenes, theatrical trailer, filmographies,
Amaray keep case packaging, film-themed menu screens, scene access
(28 chapters), languages: English and French (DD 5.1) subtitles:
English, French and Spanish, Closed Captioned
face it; Reality TV is tired out and boring. Back in 2000, it seemed
fresh, but after the numerous reincarnations Survivor
and other "reality" shows, the genre is lacking energy and
punch, and it seems high time for the fad to pack its bags. It's
also past time that parodies of these shows go away, as the idea of
parodying something that's already a parody of itself is as tired as
the subject it's lampooning. Still, Showtime
manages to eek out some laughs and clever observations as it spoofs
both reality TV and parodies of reality TV.
Mitch (Robert De Niro) is a loose cannon, an L.A.P.D. detective who
shot the camera of a news photographer while chasing a perpetrator.
A maverick TV producer, Chase Renzi (Renee Russo), sees Mitch's
personality as the hook for an audience her network's dwindling
ratings desperately needs. So she proceeds to sue the police
department to make a settlement deal that forces Mitch to be the
subject of a new reality series. Of course, every cop needs a
partner and so Chase hires cop/struggling actor Trey (Eddie Murphy)
to create an oil-and-water relationship for the show. Naturally, the
show is an overnight success and both Mitch and Trey become stars.
Trey sees this new fame as an opportunity to finally becoming a
full-time actor, while Mitch would rather stay anonymous and
concentrate on his work. But Mitch and Trey have to put their
differences aside if they're going to crack a case that could save
thousands of lives... and hit the ratings mother load.
The first thing to note about Showtime,
is that this film doesn't take itself seriously at all. And, to that
extent, it stretches believability to new heights. Robert De Niro's
character notes at the beginning of the film that police work is
normally boring - that car chases, for example, don't often result
in crashes and huge balls of fire. Yet the film gives us exactly
that. It includes a cartoony action sequence, about an hour and ten
minutes into the film, that makes True
Lies look like a documentary. This kind of "believability
stretch" is more than a little distracting, and I think
detracts from the film, which is otherwise filled with some great "quiet"
moments between De Niro and Murphy.
Speaking of De Niro and Murphy, their chemistry is unsurprisingly
good. De Niro is the low-key straight man to Murphy's funnyman, and
the major strength of the film is in the few scenes where they
banter back and forth. Also worth seeing is William Shatner's cameo
(as himself), giving advice to De Niro and Murphy on how to be good
TV cops. Renee Russo is a little too cartoony, but fits the mold and
energy of the film.
The video transfer on this disc is quite nice. Flesh tones appear
natural and the disc nicely reproduces the very wild color scheme of
the film's art direction. The black levels are satisfying as well. I
found edge enhancement a little intrusive at times, especially
during chapter 14's parking garage scenes. But, overall, this is not
a bad transfer.
On the other hand, the audio mix is not good at all. The surrounds
are quite active and help to put you right into the action. Music,
especially in the club scene, makes good use of this. But here's
where the problem is, and in my view it's a fatal problem: the
surrounds are used too much and the center channel volume is too
low. I checked to see if there was a problem with my own equipment -
if my center channel had been turned down - and it wasn't me. I
certainly hope it was just my copy of the disc, because it's very
bad. I had to use subtitles to watch much of the film.
The extras on the disc are pretty standard. First up, you get an
audio commentary with Tom Dey (the director) and Jorge Saralegui
(the producer). It's not a horrible track, but not that great
either. They offer the normal "This shot is nice"/"It
was fun to work with Shatner" sort of comments. They're not
exactly incisive, and I would have liked participation from the
actors on the track given the type of movie this is. Robert De Niro
or Eddie Murphy may have been too expensive to get, but Renee Russo
might have been a nice addition, which would have made me want to
hear this again.
The behind-the-scenes featurette is another HBO
Inside Look installment that Warner seems to favor when
padding their DVDs. It's the usual promotional fluff, made a little
more entertaining by William Shatner as narrator. Also included are
nine deleted scenes, which in whole run about thirteen minutes, and
are mostly made up of Eddie Murphy ad-libbing to the camera. They
don't add too much to the story and basically show us events that we
pretty much got wind of in the final film. The trailer is presented
in anamorphic widescreen and your standard filmographies are here
As a side note, there are separate widescreen and full screen
versions of this film on DVD. A red band on the cover indicates the
widescreen version, which (as you can imagine) we prefer.
As a film, Showtime has a few
laughs and is an overall entertaining comedy. I can understand why
it wasn't horribly successful at the box office, but it' does make
the perfect rental. Just beware of a possible bad sound mix.