By Mike Flaherty
Updated March 17, 2020 at 03:05 AM EDT
Eddie Murphy, Robert De Niro, ...
Credit: Showtime: John P. Johnson

After hitting paydirt with the Jackie Chan-Owen Wilson buddy laffer ”Shanghai Noon,” Showtime director Tom Dey tries an A-list variation with two edgy heavyweights who really should have known better. Robert De Niro stars as ace detective Mitch Preston, who reluctantly pairs with Murphy’s ”Ice” Trey Sellars, an inept flatfoot and even worse aspiring actor, for a ”Cops”-like TV series. (Rene Russo is horribly miscast as the show’s gaga network producer; too bad Dey didn’t give her screen time to costar William Shatner, who, playing himself, provides the film’s all-too-brief high points.)

If ”Showtime” is painful to watch, it’s not due to its inherent badness (it’s only thuddingly mediocre) but rather from the what-coulda-been frustration it provokes, as De Niro and Murphy’s match made in R-rated heaven winds up lamely in the middle of the road.