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Showtime Reviews

How could you not like a movie that teams the legendary Robert De Niro with the immensely talented Eddie Murphy and throws in a delightfully game William Shatner to boot? Put them in a movie that can't decide whether it's a naturalistic comedy or an unreal farce, and hire a cast of mediocre, misdirected supporting actors as precinct captains, convicts and criminal masterminds. Then toss continuity and logic out the window, like when showing a new type of mini-bazooka gun that can blast right through a ceiling and right up through the concrete underside of a water-filled swimming pool, but not through the sandbag our heroes are hiding behind. We could go on, but we do need to leave some room for story and characters. Veteran L.A. police detective/sourpuss Mitch Preston (a sadly one-note De Niro) makes headlines one night when he shoots a news videographer's camera during a botched sting operation. With the network threatening to sue, Mitch's captain (Frankie R. Faison) agrees to allow producer Chase Renzi (Rene Russo) to feature reluctant media-darling Mitch in a reality-based cop show. At the network's insistence, he gets a minority partner — beat cop/wannabe actor Trey "Ice Trey" Sellars (Murphy) — and an acting coach (Shatner, playing himself). Meanwhile, the target of the sting, club-owner and criminal kingpin Caesar Vargas (Pedro Damian, playing a Hispanic stereotype that would've embarrassed Miami Vice), has a cache of custom-made, large-bore automatic weapons with enormous firepower. In a typically inexplicable plot point, Vargas allows two of his drug dealers (the effective Mos Def and the much-less-so T.J. Cross) to keep one of these rare guns — and ammo — at their drug-sales location, but tells them they can't fire it. Why give them the gun at all, and in a place that's hardly secure? No reason, other than to give Vargas an opportunity to later shoot up a house in revenge. Such lazy plotting infests the whole film, which may very well have started out a different animal. It opens with Mitch essentially telling the audience that what follows won't be another formula buddy-cop movie with cars flipping over and catching on fire, and then absolutely becomes a formula buddy-cop movie with cars flipping over and catching on fire. As for a satire on buddy-cop movies, cop reality shows or media whoring in general, this one makes De Niro's recent film 15 MINUTES look like NETWORK. Even worse, aside from a few scenes with Shatner, it just isn't funny.