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National Security

movie review out of 4 Movie Review: National Security

Starring: Martin Lawrence, Steve Zahn
Director: Dennis Dugan
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 91 Minutes
Release Date: January 2003
Genres: Action, Comedy

*Also starring: Bill Duke, Eric Roberts, Colm Feore

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

"This is no laughing matter," the defense attorney tells Earl (Martin Lawrence), a black man who is lying under oath about a Rodney King style beating by a white cop, Hank (Steve Zahn). NATIONAL SECURITY is a tasteless comedy that resorts to racism for most of its humor. Lawrence, who can be quite funny, as he was in BLACK KNIGHT, is more frequently insufferable, as he was in WHAT'S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN? and as he is here. Earl loves to rail against whites, claiming, for example, that he is constantly being pulled over for "DWB" -- driving while black. Zahn, on the other hand, with some priceless reaction shots, manages to give the only decent performance in the picture.

After the trial, the falsely convicted Hank is sent to prison, where the black inmates are all out to get him because he assaulted a brother. Once released, Hank can find a job only as a low-rent security guard. Earl, a doofus would-be officer who blew up the police academy, ends up being a security guard as well. And, don't you know it, following the standard Hollywood formula, they end up being reluctant partners, chasing some very sophisticated criminals. Earl and Hank squabble all the way until, of course, they become real buddies who watch each other's backs.

This is just the type of repulsive comedy that studios love to bury with a January release. The movie dogs have arrived. After December's crop of Oscar fare, we now have a lot of NATIONAL SECURITYs ahead of us.

NATIONAL SECURITY runs a long 1:30. It is rated PG-13 for "violence, language and some sensuality" and would be acceptable for kids around 10 and up.

Copyright 2003 Steve Rhodes

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