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Film / Showtime

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Showtime is a 2002 action comedy film directed by Tom Dey. The central plot involves LAPD Detective Mitch Preston (Robert De Niro), a By-the-Book Cop, being forced to partner up with Officer Trey Sellars (Eddie Murphy), a patrolman who dreams of being a Cowboy Cop on TV, on a reality TV show of the same name. Mitch hates the idea, his partner, and a camera following him. Trey, on the other hand, absolutely loves it all. Much of the film involves Trey trying to act out the typical police tropes and Mitch pointing out why they don't work in Real Life. The show's producer Chase Renzi (Rene Russo) also hires William Shatner to instruct the duo on how to behave like TV cops thanks to his experience playing T.J. Hooker.

The reluctant partners are investigating a new weapon that has shown up on the streets. They trace it to an arms dealer named Cesar Vargas (Pedro Damián) but are unable to prove his involvement and, instead, bond over a bar fight with Vargas and his men. When Vargas and his people rob an armored car, Mitch ends up in a car chase that gets Da Chief to suspend him and take him off the investigation. Trey is busted back to patrol. However, during the airing of the final episode of the show, Mitch notices a weapons expert who helps the investigation in Vargas's club and realizes that he's involved. Mitch and Trey break into the expert's house and find the machineshop where he manufactures Vargas's weapons. With Chase's help, they find and expose Vargas at a gun show at a hotel downtown. Vargas takes Chase hostage and locks himself in a penthouse suite. Using a literal Chekhov's Gun (a small hold-out pistol owned by Trey) that Mitch hides in a camera, he shoots Vargas, causing the latter to fall and let loose a burst from his weapon that punctures holes into the pool on the roof. The water rushes in, throws Vargas through the window, and does the same to the partners. Mitch and Trey manage to grab hold of the edge.

In the epilogue, Trey has passed the detective exam and is now officially Mitch's partner. Mitch is now dating Chase, who tells them that they will show up in the Season 2 pilot of the show in order to pass the torch to a pair of female cops who hate each other.

The film provides examples of:

  • Amoral Attorney: Johnnie Cochran makes a cameo As Himself as Lazy Boy's attorney.
  • As Himself:
    • William Shatner is brought in by Chase to instruct Mitch and Trey on how to act as TV cops, thanks to his experience playing T.J. Hooker.
    • Johnnie Cochran as Lazy Boy's attorney.
  • Bar Brawl: Mitch and Trey start one in Vargas's club when the latter starts mocking them for not being real cops.
  • Big Bad: Cesar Vargas.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Mitch, although he does break rules when necessary (or when he's pissed). His first scene involves him telling a bunch of elementary school kids the realities of police work.
  • Car Hood Sliding: Lampshaded, Mitch tells Trey that real police officers never do hood slides because their holsters always make a scratch on the hood; cue an Oh, Crap! reaction from Trey when he sees a huge scratch across his new corvette's hood.
  • Confession Cam: Mitch and Trey are required to spend 5 minutes each day in a booth recording their personal thoughts. Trey is perfectly willing to use it for its intended purpose. Mitch, on the other hand, is shown either shaving in the booth, reading a newspaper, or making fun of Trey.
  • Cowboy Cop: Trey really wants to be one, at least on TV. Mitch occasionally shows glimpses of it, despite trying to be a By-the-Book Cop.
  • Da Chief: The captain isn't too bad and even has a soft spot for Mitch, but he does chew Mitch out when he gets involved in a car chase downtown.
    • He also reveals to have done an episode of COPS once.
  • Damsel in Distress: Chase becomes one at the end, when Vargas takes her hostage. Of course, Mitch saves her, and they end up together in the end.
  • Destination Defenestration: Justified by all the water from a rooftop pool rushing in and smashing the windows, sweeping Vargas away.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: William Shatner demonstrates how to properly do this on TV, complete with a Fascinating Eyebrow. Mitch immediately points out that the powder could just as easily be cyanide. Trey calms Shatner down by telling him it's never cyanide.
    • Averted earlier in the film when the actual detectives use a drug testing kit on their undercover drug buy.
  • Hidden Depths: Mitch practices pottery as an outlet for his anger issues. He's not very good, though.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Mitch is very good with a gun and knows it. After shooting the TV camera mere inches from the cameraman's head, he points out to Da Chief that he hit exactly where he aimed. During the climax, he is able to hit the Big Bad with a tiny holdout pistol that he wasn't even properly holding (it was placed instead of a tape in a camera.
  • Pac Man Fever: Averted, Eddie Murphy is actually playing the game Total Vice, a game so rare that outside this film, took 15 years to actually find footage for.
  • Shout-Out: To the Lethal Weapon series, among others.
    Chase: Research tells us that buddy cops live in visually distinctive places. Like a trailer on a beach or a loft downtown, that sort of thing.
    • Made even better by the fact that Chase is played by Renee Russo, aka Lorna Cole.
  • This Is Reality: Mitch is constantly tearing down typical Hollywood police tropes.
  • Unmanly Secret: Mitch does pottery in his spare time. He's pretty bad, despite being at it for years.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: Shatner tries to teach the duo on how to properly slide on the hood of a car and ends up falling from the other side. Trey also slides on the hood of an expensive car that the studio has lent him, with Mitch pointing out that a real cop doesn't slide on the hood because the holster damages the paint job.