“Are you talkin’ to me?”
Time can be a cruel mistress. That much we know. But she really did a number on the career of Robert De Niro, who hardly anybody talks about anymore.
Once the most esteemed actor of his generation, a man responsible for starring roles in Taxi Driver, Mean Streets and other films made between the seventies and nineties you may have posters of plastered on your walls, his career has plummeted so badly in the decades since that it almost sounds like the plot of some tawdry modern comedy which would probably star the man himself.
And while we can stomach his work in the Fockers films, and admire his recent work in Silver Linings Playbook, the general consensus among film fans remains that the 72-year-old got to a point when he stopped caring, not bothering to read scripts and just take paycheques over small golden statuettes.
But when exactly did the heavyweight actor have this existential crisis? What was the breaking point. You don’t just go from Raging Bull to Rocky and Bullwinkle overnight. Or do you?
Twitter user @Chapmangamo thinks he has the answer, correlating data from Rotten Tomatoes scores to discover “the exact moment that Robert De Niro stopped caring”.
Analyse that data and you'll see that 2002 and 2003 were the years in which it all went South for the star - only four years after Ronin but four years before the godawful Godsend. It looks to us as though buddy-cop movie Showtime, also starring Eddie Murphy, was the nail in the coffin, the one that made him so disillusioned at filmmaking that he really gave up.
And having managed to sit through Showtime, in all fairness we don't blame him.