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NATIONAL SECURITY

About The Production
As someone who is adept at both comedy and action, National Security director Dennis Dugan was more than happy to tackle a project that gave him the opportunity to work with top comic-actors, Martin Lawrence and Steve Zahn, and "to come to work every day knowing you're going to blow up a bunch of stuff," he laughs.

A former actor, Dugan started his directing career in television with such action shows as "Hunter," "Wise Guy" and "Moonlighting," before moving on to such feature comedies as Big Daddy and Happy Gilmore.

Both genres require exquisite timing and careful attention to detail. Lawrence and Zahn, actors with highly developed comedic approaches, helped Dugan mine the script's humor. The former is famous for his street-wise, fast-talking style, while the latter has a flair for eccentric, off-the-wall line readings.

The comedic counterpoint between the two actors breathed fresh life into the buddy-action movie genre, according to producer Bobby Newmyer. And without it, the balance of National Security's storyline could have gone awry. "While Martin, as an actor, has a great deal of heart, the character he plays is thoroughly outrageous and unpredictable," says Newmyer. "And the thing about Steve is that, because he's such a solid actor, he emotionally grounds even the most broadly comedic moments. So even though it's a wild action-comedy, he allows the audience to suspend their disbelief and go along for the ride."

What attracted Newmyer to Jay Scherick & David Ronn's script was the believability they brought to the antagonism between the two central characters. At the beginning of the story, Martin's character, Earl Montgomery, an L.A.P.D. reject, accuses policeman Hank Rafferty (Zahn) of physical abuse, after he is falsely suspected of robbery. As a result, Rafferty is thrown off the police force and spends six months in jail.

When the two characters are reunited – they're now both security guards – "they both have a real reason to despise one another," says Newmyer. "Because both characters are absolutely convinced that they are right – and the other guy is wrong -- and because it takes virtually the entire picture for them to resolve their differences, the comedy just flows naturally."

Their mutual frustration is the film's through-line, according to Dugan, and it makes the characters sympathetic, no matter how much they screw up. "Steve's character is someone who has always been by-the-book. Then his partner gets killed and he's falsely accused of beating up Earl (Lawrence's character), thrown in prison and stripped of his badge. Earl is someone who seems confident on the surface, but who's really afraid to put himself out there, so he blames everything bad that happens to him on racism. But the reason he doesn't make it to the police force is because he won't follow the rules. In the story, each has qualities the other lacks. They soon come to realize that they're holding themselves back. Once they decide to rely on one another, they finally achieve their objectives."

The humor in National Security, observes Zahn, comes from the fact that "both guys are so totally committed, but they come at it from completely opposite directions. The whole thing just escalates. The more I hate him, the more he hates me. We just keep ea

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