48 Hrs.

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
48 Hrs. Movie Poster Image
Violence, profanity, racial epithets in dated '80s movie.
  • R
  • 1982
  • 96 minutes

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Kids say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

As an all-too-typical 1980s cop flick, there isn't much in the way of positive messages.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Not much in the way of positive role models: Of the two lead characters, one is a chain-smoking cop constantly sipping from a flask of whiskey he keeps in his suit coat pocket, and the other is a convict whose primary topic of conversation is sex.


Prison wardens, police detectives, and police officers are shown being shot and killed by the bad guys. Frequent gun violence. The two main characters get into a lengthy fistfight. Shots are fired into a crowd waiting at a BART station. A woman hits a man in the side with a baseball bat.


One of the characters has been in prison for almost three years and is constantly talking about wanting to have sex. Breasts and female buttocks are exposed in a scene in which one of the bad guys is sitting in a hotel with a prostitute.


Frequent profanity of all varieties. Although "f--k," "a--hole," "s--t," and "p---y" are often used, the white cop uses terms such as the "N" word, "spear chucker," and "watermelon" when speaking to the African-American convict he has temporarily partnered up with to help solve the case. The word "faggot" is used, and two women living together are called "dykes." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Early in the movie, one of the main characters is shown pouring whiskey into his coffee. Throughout the movie, he's shown taking sips from a flask of whiskey he keeps hidden in his sport coat pocket. He also chain-smokes. His partner in the movie, a convict released for 48 hours to help solve the case, is shown drinking in bars. Other characters are shown drinking in bars and smoking; characters are shown smoking in the police precinct.

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. 

User Reviews

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Teen, 14 years old Written byDJ Ninja972 October 11, 2020

Why is CSM against Eddie Murphy so much?!

They just keep saying "oh every eddie murphy movie hasn't aged well, you can't watch them nowadays" WHAT A LOAD OF OLD S**T! I am from this... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byZach_the_movie_lover October 26, 2016

Awesome '80s Action/Comedy

48 hrs. is a great 80s buddy cop movie. It can go from on the edge of your seat action sequences to hilarious jokes and dialogue. Although parents should know t... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

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