Bomb Rating: 

There's nothing worse than a Hollywood movie that thinks it's smarter than the conventions it's trying to parody, only to devolve helplessly into those very conventions. It's like watching a monkey operate a computer. The monkey looks pretty smart when it first sits down in front of the monitor, but then it starts banging on the keyboard and defecating in its workspace (like Kenneth Lay reportedly did all day). The end result simply underscores how often presumed intelligence leads to rampaging idiocy.

Consider the feature film director. Director Tom ("Shanghai Noon") Dey looks pretty good behind the camera initially, then things start to get away from him. "Showtime" is presented as some kind of buddy-cop film parody, but ends up becoming the thing it's trying to parody, as if Dey were saying, "Look, I can do the very thing I'm trying to make fun of! Uh, whoopsie."

Detective Mitch Preston (Robert De Niro) is forced into a reality-based cop show with the worst of all possible partners: two-time detective test failure, street cop and aspiring actor Trey Sellars (Eddie Murphy). William Shatner, in possibly his greatest role ever, plays himself in a brief cameo where he tries to teach the guys how to be good TV cops. Rene Russo, who looks like she really ought to cut down on the caffeine and the diet pills, plays the television producer with convincing vacuity.

This movie bears some resemblance to another bad De Niro effort, "15 Minutes." Remember "15 Minutes"? There's a reason for that. Maybe it hasn't yet become clear to Hollywood what is painfully clear to everyone else: Hollywood putting itself under the microscope is like putting your child under a Catholic Priest's close supervision -- things are likely to get touched upon, but not quite in the way you had hoped.

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