Indistinguishable dumb action comedy.
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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 this movie has a great deal of violence, some strong language, and a kinky sex scene involving handcuffs.
Probably one of the worst movies ever
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Avoid with young kids.
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What's the Story?
In NATIONAL SECURITY, police academy reject Earl (Martin Lawrence) is trying to retrieve the keys he locked in his car when police officer Hank (Steve Zahn), thinking he is trying to steal the car, asks him what he is doing. Earl's hostile response leads Hank to begin to arrest him. Earl, already agitated, gets even more upset when a bee flies toward him. A bystander making a family movie films what looks like Hank brutally beating Earl, when all Hank is doing is trying to get rid of the bee. Like the Rodney King video, it sparks a public outcry for justice, and Hank does hard time in prison for six months. They meet up again when the same bad guys Hank saw kill his partner show up in the warehouse Earl is guarding. They have to learn to work together and trust each other in order to save the day.
Is It Any Good?
National Security is another in a string of indistinguishable dumb action comedies. It is clearly modeled after classic action comedies like Beverly Hills Cop, but this one is less a movie than a three-minute coming attraction with 90 extra minutes of padding. Situations that can be set up in an instant are given drawn-out explanations that test the attention spans of even the most committed fans of the movie's performers. As in all buddy films, the buddies have issues they have to resolve with each other before they can resolve the issues they have together. In the sorry history of Hollywood "meet cute" set-ups, this one is particularly weak.
Zahn and Lawrence have no chemistry and they careen listlessly between dull banter and dull chases and explosions. Dugan has no feeling for action sequences. The only interesting moment comes when they hide something in the garage of Hank's ex-girlfriend. The movie wastes two exceptionally talented performers. Lawrence occasionally gets a chance to give a short riff that creates a bright spot, but Zahn seems bummed to be in the movie at all.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Earl's views on race and how he has to rethink his own prejudices when he takes Hank's ex-girlfriend for the maid.
- In theaters: January 17, 2003
- On DVD or streaming: May 27, 2003
- Cast: Eric Roberts, Martin Lawrence, Steve Zahn
- Director: Dennis Dugan
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence, language, and some sensuality
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
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