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Despite some of the negative reviews that I read, I watched SHOWTIME ($27) with an open mind and found that the movie generated a whole lot of laughs.  Taking the cop/buddy movie comedy formula in a slightly new direction, SHOWTIME pokes fun at a ratings obsessed media that would take a set of mismatched cops, and stars them in their own Reality TV show.  Robert De Niro stars in SHOWTIME as Detective Mitch Preston, a cranky, nonsense cop, who shoots a television camera when it gets in his face during an investigation.  To avoid a ten million dollar lawsuit, the city orders Mitch to appear on a Reality TV police show for the media company whose television camera he shot. 

Of course, Mitch wants no part of the show, or the cameras that will be constantly in his face.  Making matters worse, Mitch is teamed with Officer Trey Sellars (Eddie Murphy), a publicity seeking wannabe actor, whose police work takes a back seat to his thespian aspirations.  Mitch and Trey mix like oil and water, but the cantankerous detective and the hot shot beat cop prove to be a ratings hit- much to the delight of Chase Renzi (Rene Russo), the TV producer who put her career on the line when she pitched the concept of Showtime to her boss at the network.  Things are further complicated when Mitch and Trey are called upon to investigate the origins of a new, high-powered weapon that has just shown up on the streets of Los Angeles.  The cast of SHOWTIME also includes Pedro Damián, Mos Def, Frankie Faison and William Shatner- who does a hilarious turn portraying himself.

Warner Home Video has made SHOWTIME available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays (a separate full screen version is also being released, but I wouldn't waste my time with it).  As I've come to expect from any new, big budget from Warner, DVD quality is absolutely first rate.  The wide screen image is wonderfully crisp and incredibly well defined.  Colors are vibrant and flawlessly reproduced.  Flesh tones are natural, but certainly more appealing than they appear in real life.  Blacks are pure, whites are very clean and the film contrast is incredibly smooth.  Additionally, the picture has excellent depth and rather impressive shadow detail.  The film element used for the transfer displays virtually no blemishes, although there is an occasionally noticeable grain structure.

Unlike a typical comedy, SHOWTIME has enough action elements to warrant an impressive, directional Dolby Digital 5.1 channel sound mix.  There is plenty of gunplay in the movie, as well as the expected car chases and helicopter fly bys.  All in all, this is a fairly aggressive sound mix that produces a believable and cohesive sound field, with clean panning of sounds between channels.  Dialogue always completely understandable and the actors' voices always sound natural.  The bass channel is solid and a very punchy anytime there is weapons fire in the movie- especially those sequences involving the high powered gun that I mentioned above.  A French .1 channel track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features as well as the DVD's supplements. Director Tom Dey and producer Jorge Saralegui are on hand for a running audio commentary.  Also included on the DVD is the fourteen-minute HBO First Look: The Making of Showtime, as are nine Additional Scenes/Extended Scenes are provided with the option of director's commentary.  A theatrical trailer and cast & crew filmographies close out the supplements.  SHOWTIME is also DVD-ROM enabled, which offers various web links.

It may not be the greatest comedy of all time, but SHOWTIME is a funny movie that will appeal to De Niro and Murphy fans.  Warner's widescreen presentation looks and sounds great; so if you have any inclination to see SHOWTIME, don't wait for pay-per-view, watching the film on DVD is going to be so much better.


Showtime (Widescreen Edition) (2002)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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