Violence, profanity, racial epithets in dated '80s movie.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that 48 Hrs. is the hit 1982 movie starring Nick Nolte as a cop and Eddie Murphy as a convict put in an unlikely partnership to try to stop a cop-killing sociopath who has just escaped from prison. The frequent violence and gunplay, sex and nudity, and profanity ("f--k" is common) alone give this a solid R-rating; Nolte's character's often-enough usage of racial epithets such as the "N" word, "spear chucker," and "watermelon" when speaking with Murphy's character are as gratuitous as they are pointless, and that goes for usage of the words "faggot" and "dyke" as well. Given the now long-overused story formula to the graphic language and the smoking, 48 Hrs. has not aged well and is about as '80s as big hair and fat shoelaces.
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What's the Story?
Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) is a tough San Francisco cop who doesn't always play by the book. The only survivor of a shoot-out with a sociopathic escaped convict who kills Cates' fellow police officers, he takes an unlikely approach to solving the case. He gives Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy), a cocky convict almost finished with his three-year prison sentence, a 48-hour parole to help him track down the killer. Hammond does this because he knows the killer is looking for hundreds of thousands of dollars Hammond has kept hidden in the trunk of his car this whole time. Through this unlikely partnership, Cates and Hammond must try not to kill each other or get into too much trouble out on the street as they go on an all-out search for the elusive murderer.
Is It Any Good?
Although it was a hit at the time and launched Eddie Murphy's film career, 48 HRS. has not aged well; not only that, most of the dialogue is pretty groan-worthy and trite. The biggest reason it doesn't stand the test of time is simply that its formula -- the "unlikely partnership" cop-action movie -- has been done to death since the movie's 1982 release. Furthermore, the movie's attempts at "realistic" dialogue, by giving Nolte's character no compunction about throwing out terms like the "N" word (among others) toward his black partner, are utterly pointless.
All in all, 48 Hrs. is just another dated '80s movie. Even a passing familiarity with the "unlikely partnership" formula of action movies should give the viewer a good idea of how the story will unfold.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about profanity. How is profanity used in this movie? Does it seem gratuitous or a reflection of the way white police officers and African-American convicts might talk to one another?
Did the violence seem necessary to the story, or do you think it was used for entertainment purposes?
What are some other examples of action movies in which police officers are put into a partnership with someone they don't like at first?
- In theaters: December 8, 1982
- On DVD or streaming: January 26, 1999
- Cast: Nick Nolte, Eddie Murphy, Annette O'Toole
- Director: Walter Hill
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- Last updated: December 20, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Beverly Hills Cop
Classic '80s Murphy vehicle; fun but foulmouthed.
Mismatched cops spar in violent '80s action hit.
Dense, tangled period cop drama for adults.
For kids who love to laugh
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