Review: Showtime (2002)

Composer: Alan Silvestri

Label: Bootleg

Catalogue Nr.: Bootleg

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Showtime was a comedy vehicle for Eddie Murphy and Robert De Niro. The idea of having them paired in a buddy cop movie might seem intriguing at first, but sadly it came down as run of the mill stuff with Eddie Murphy doing his comedy routine while De Niro is doing his tough lone ranger routine without too much chemistry between them. De Niro plays Mitch Preston, a tough old school detective who hates publicity and Eddie Murphy plays officer Trey Sellars, a member of the troop who is more interested in acting and his own ego instead of doing real police work. Meanwhile, TV network producer Chase Renzy (played by Rene Russo) is struggling for a new reality show concept following real cops during their dangerous shifts on the streets. Chase becomes aware of Mitch and Trey, so they are being casted for the show but the different personas don't get along too well. However, they are forced to let their differences behind as a mysterious, new bad guy with a new, extremely lethal weapon shows up. It really felt like everyone in this movie was just so focused on himself instead of making an entertaining movie. Apart from some smile-inducing moments that mainly are due to De Niro's ability to make the best even of the most boring roles, most gags just feel forced and aren't funny at all. Box office response wasn't that good either (even guest stars like William Shatner as TJ Hooker didn't help much) and to make things worst, his appearance in Showtime "earned" De Niro his one and only razzie nomination to this day. 

The score:

Alan Silvestri is probably the perfect choice for the scoring task on a buddy cop movie. Having scored such successful cop TV series as CHiPs (1978-1983) as well as Starsky & Hutch (1977), he even fits the reality TV aspect that Showtime required. Sadly though, from listening to the score it seems like he ended up just as puzzled by the bad movie he had in front of him as the audience the movie never reached. He obviously tried to treat all aspects of the crippled story with an individual musical concept which lead to a lot of short, situation-focused tracks ranging from suspense to humour and a bit of action scoring thrown in without much of a thematic guidline. There are only two things that come remotely close to being called themes. The first one is a simple but quite funny synth tune consisting of an unobtrusive slap bass accentuation and an heroic, electronic brass fanfare in typical Silvestri fashion that functions as source music and is the fictional TV show's main theme. Then, there is a motif for the TV network employees. Whenever they do something with the show or discuss it, this tune is playing. It's a very simple combination of pizzicato strings with a very basic rhythmic accompaniment and an occasional slap bass line. The film's disastrous box office existence made a score-only release an illusion and a song album without any score was the only release that came out until a bootleg release appeared in mid 2007.

By looking at the individual tracks it becomes even more clear why Showtime isn't a good listen. Already the first 10 tracks, besides being short, have absolutely no connection to each other. After the 'As Time Goes By'-Warner Bros. Logo music, the "Showtime Theme" is starting the CD. As described earlier, the theme is quite simple and isn't really a main theme for the underscore as it mainly appears as source music for the TV show within the film. In the next track, militaristic snare drums are heard to create a comic effect when "Detective Preston Teaches" little kids in a dead serious fashion. Even though this track is far from a good listen, it managed to create some fun in the film quite successfully and was actually a decent opening. Silvestri scores "Trey's Rehearsal" with a short emotional track for strings, horns and flute but the track really is too short to trigger any significant emotional impact. Following this soft dramatic cue is dark brooding suspense music in "Drug Deal Assembly" with low brass, shrill and dark synths and occasional staccato strikes that are anything but a pleasant musical idea though in the movie this track serves it's purpose in a tension filled scene as Mitch and a colleague are undercover to bust some dealers. A gentle synth rhythm which is quickly joined by exotic percussion starts off "Money And Shit", noting the appearance of Trey who stumbles into the deal, leading to a "TV Repair Shop Shootout" - one of the few real action tracks. But sadly it is a bit on the stop-and-go, almost mickey-mousey side and barely really develops a true drive save for a brief moment with a fast string ostinato. An eerie, quietly rising string pad at the end is heard when Mitch is shooting the camera of an annoying reporter.

 Next comes the introduction of the motif for the TV network guys. As we see how "Renzi and Brad negotiate" about the video material of Mitch's camera shot and to get a series done, the unobtrusive rhythm appears, soon joined by the simple melody on pizzicato strings before the slap bass rhythm comes in. While this idea is intriguing and quite nice, it can get really on your nerves when it appears almost without variation over and over again in such short cues as "Two Visitors", "Preston Leaves", "Good Chemistry", "Micro Cameras In The Car", "Crime Scene Arrival", "Surprise" or "Loose Change Dish". It's nothing more than a neat little idea that wears out in the long run. On the other hand, "Busting The Thief" is a brief but very fun action track with cool dynamics, consisting of Silvestri's orchestral handling over a hip backdrop of e-guitars and exotic percussion as Trey is busting a thief. A funny musical moment comes at the end when Trey gives a stupid one liner. Silvestri accentuates Trey's 'acting' with a short, overly serious low brass statement to a solid, comic effect. "Vargas Appears" is just another strained layer of unmusical, brooding sound design with a lonely, quiet woodwind hopelessly trying to get through and the usual Silvestrian moaning brass effect at the end when the gangster Vargas blows up the house of a traitor. A much too short moment of string suspense accompanies Mitch's and Trey's investigations at the "Collapsed House". What follows now in "Burning Car" and "The Director Bursts In" (as well as "Mitch's New Car" later on) is a collection of tracks with steady integration of an e-guitar and a very squeezed, simple brass motif while "Hood Jumping" and "T.J. Okay" are short reprises of the heroic synth brass Showtime-theme. "Trey's Tale" is similar to "Trey's Rehearsal" as it features the same brief emotional melodrama.

By the time one reaches "Charlie Advises" and "Partner" the interest in the score might have already dwindled away completely and sadly these two cues don't add much either apart from some faint exotic percussion in the latter track. "Pottery Studio" is somewhat cool because it introduces a nice, quirky little motif consisting of flute, tuba and pizzicato strings for Mitch's grumpy side in between another statement of the TV network motif. "Scratched" is too short and not very interesting while "New Workspace / Showtime" has yet again that already annoying TV network motif and more e-guitar stuff at the end. Finally, there is some sign of orchestral power in the presence of a dominant horn fanfare at the beginning of "Muffler Test / Trey's Plan" while a simple arrangement for small rhythmic section follows. "Rerun Gives Evidence" is a small but funny piece that emulates a ticking clock through orchestral colours. Exotic but simple samba rhythms are heard in "Rerun's Story Stalled" with some brief moments for high trumpet and piano. "Mitch And Trey" is a smoky, laid back sax piece in best tradition of Silvestri's Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988). The later following tracks "It's Over" as well as "Watching The Show" are also carrying that soft, jazzy sensibility and even though none of them is as good as anything from Roger Rabit these tracks are still a welcome change in sound. It's underlining a growing bonding between the two main characters. A short suspense outburst highlights "Another Surprise" before the scores one and only true highlight finally blasts through the speakers. "The Big Hit And City Chase" is a cool action moment that combines a bit of Michael Kamenesque sensibilities for scoring urban action scenes with Silvestri's strong orchestral identity. There are screaming fanfares, pounding percussion, exotic drums, e-guitars, nervous strings and even some interesting chord progressions, all that is very much different and so much better than what this score offered so far.

"Mitch Saved" is just another reprise of "Scratched" and "The Dog Stays" isn't much different from "Pottery Studio". A short cue with dominant Silvestri fanfares and exotic percussion is "A New Lead", if only it were longer it might actually be fun to listen to. "Arrival At The Gun Show" is mainly suspense with slight, exotic percussion while "Gunfire And Escape" is the last moment of solid action music, reprising some material from "The Big Hit And City Chase". As the track title implies, "Hostage Situation And Pool Flood" is mainly suspense with a brief moment of rising action at the end. I can't remember hearing "Reprise" in the movie which was probably meant as a bridge to the end credits song because some of the stylistic elements from the score and the Showtime theme are combined here though just as the majority of the music this way of ending the score somehow just feels unsatisfying.

Review by Andreas Creutzburg

 

RATING:

Score as heard in the film: 59%

Score as heard on CD: 39%

TOTAL: 49%

 

The presentation:

Bootlegs of Silvestri's scores just seem to fly in en masse recently. Showtime is just one among several others and came completely unexpected. Of course, it contains the whole score clocking in at 45 minutes and even more because there are even some bits of music cut from the film. Sound quality is also very good even though there seem to be some moments of unbalanced volume where the music just becomes a bit louder but it's still better than the DVD rear channel music / sfx rip that briefly made the round. Beware if you are finding this bootleg in a store: This is a real pressed CD and otherwise looks like a normal CD release with a faked barcode on the back cover but it is still just an illegal pressing, so in case you find it anywhere you may want to think twice before paying money for it!

Presentation by the Label: Bootleg

 

Summary:

Showtime is one of those projects that makes one scratching the head about why Alan Silvestri accepted it. To be fair, the concept of having De Niro and Murphy in one comedy vehicle is tempting but ultimately did not pay off for anyone - not for De Niro, not for Murphy and certainly not for Sivestri because the movie ended up very badly, resulting in the score for Showtime being a problematic effort for a problematic movie. It feels like a collection of tracks that have barely a connection to each other and are lacking any strong thematic guidance like Silvestri was focused on doing just something that does not interfere with the many dialog-heavy scenes. As this is Silvestri though there are occasional moments of film music genius where he enhances or creates a comic moment in the film. But seperated from the film this score is far from a good listening experience and bare of really stand-out moments except for the big action track "The Big Hit And City Chase". The majority of the tracks have a very short running time which combined with the general lack of coherence or strong, thematic material makes Showtime an uncomfortable score to listen to. However, if you are patient enough to edit a 'highlights' CD of the 45 minutes of score material from this bootleg you might be able to increase the pleasure a bit.

 

Tracklisting:

01. Warner Bros. Logo (contains "As Time Goes By") - 0:15
02. Showtime Theme - 2:29
03. Detective Preston Teaches - 0:59
04. Trey's Rehearsal - 0:53
05. Drug Deal Assembly - 1:41
06. Money And Shit - 2:18
07. TV Repair Shop / Shootout / Pursuing Lazy Boy - 2:28
08. Renzy And Brad Negotiate - 0:57
09. Two Visitors - 0:20
10. Preston Leaves - 0:35
11. Busting The Thief - 1:21
12. Good Chemistry - 0:16
13. Vargas Appears - 1:50
14. Collapsed House - 0:11
15. Burning Car - 0:13
16. The Director Bursts In - 0:27
17. Hood Jumping - 0:38
18. T.J. Okay - 0:11
19. Micro Cameras In The Car - 1:01
20. Trey's Tale - 0:57
21. Crime Scene Arrival - 0:35
22. Charlie Advises - 0:32
23. Partner - 0:35
24. Surprise - 0:27
25. Pottery Studio - 0:44
26. Mitch's New Car - 1:07
27. Scratched - 0:19
28. New Workspace / Showtime - 2:11
29. Muffler Test / Trey's Plan - 1:23
30. Rerun Gives Evidence - 0:50
31. Rerun's Story Stalled - 0:38
32. Mitch And Trey - 1:11
33. Another Surprise - 0:24
34. The Big Hit And City Chase - 6:15
35. Mitch Saved - 0:14
36. It's Over - 0:37
37. The Dog Stays - 1:32
38. Watching The Show / Charlie Hertz' House - 2:38
39. A New Lead - 0:15
40. Arrival At The Gun Show - 0:38
41. Gunfire And Escape - 1:35
42. Hostage Situation / Pool Flood - 2:48
43. Loose Change Dish - 0:53
44. Reprise - 1:19