Cinema Signal:

. "Showtime"

Two officers of the law. One, a veteran detective who wants anything but the spotlight as he chases after the bad guys; the second, a street cop whose assignment is usually putting up barrier tape for the detectives at a crime scene and who is a would-be actor chasing movie parts. The first is Robert De Niro as detective Mitch Preston; the second Eddie Murphy as officer Trey Sellars. No slouches in the comedy department either one, but their primary challenge here is making this awkward script work.

Not wanting the kind of attention the media brings, Preston shoots a cameraman's camera and grabs headlines. Soon, Chase Renzi (Rene Russo), a producer of reality drama shows on TV, has a series going based on our two boys, now destined by Hollywood to become buddies. Preston is about as reluctant to do it as a seriously shy detective can be. Sellars laps it up like cream on cappuccino.

The funniest thing about the movie is that, amidst a string of embarrassingly flat, ill-timed moments, some laughs come through. The two guys, not working from the best material they've had, push their natural gifts as far as the script allows and somehow come off okay. Clearly, it's the talent, stupid.

Rene Russo also comes off with good control over her pushy but professional Chase Renzi. Pedro Damian is quite effective as the wily sociopath who inspires the mayhem with bullets that belong in cannons. William Shatner is good as himself, even with a self-deprecating line or two. And Drena De Niro, Robert's adopted daughter, playing Renzi's assistant Annie, acquits herself within the necessary framework of the hijinks.

Go to see this picture if you love these two guys... if you truly love them enough to overlook the poor direction, mis-paced editing, nonsensical moments, poorly derived logic, and other weak spots. You won't be bored. Others will be.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenne
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