36 user 48 critic

Civic Duty (2006)

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An American accountant bombarded with cable news and the media's obsession with terrorist plots in the post 9-11 world, receives a jolt when an unattached Islamic graduate student moves in next door.


Jeff Renfroe


Andrew Joiner
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Krause ... Terry Allen
Kari Matchett ... Marla Allen
Richard Schiff ... FBI Agent Tom Hilary
Kal Naga ... Gabe Hassan (as Khaled Abol Naga)
Ian Tracey ... Lieutenant Randall Lloyd
Vanesa Tomasino ... Bank Teller
Laurie Murdoch ... Loan Officer
Michael Roberds Michael Roberds ... Post Office Clerk
Agam Darshi ... Nurse
Mark Brandon ... Night Anchor Bret Anderson
Brenda Crichlow ... Day Anchor Tricia Wise (as Brenda M. Crichlow)
Val Cole Val Cole ... Morning Anchor Susan Harwood
Mark Docherty Mark Docherty ... News Reporter Chad Winslow
Michael St. John Smith ... Legal Analyst
P. Lynn Johnson ... Govenor Bradley


Shortly after landing a job, Terry Allen is laid off, starts looking for another circa post September 11, 2001 media frenzy and paranoia with President George W. Bush stating that grief has turned to anger, anger to resolution, and that there are thousands of terrorists in over 60 countries ready to strike. With increasing reports of identity theft, the involvement of wealthy & educated foreigners in terrorist activities, Terry starts suspecting his new neighbor, a middle-easterner, who he stereotypes as 'raghead', 'camel jockey', and 'sand nigger'. His wife, Marla, does not share in his bigotry, but he believes that she has turned her attention from rock-stars to Jihadists. While looking for employment, as well as a loan to purchase a house, he also contacts the Federal Bureau of Investigation as he feels he has sufficient evidence that his new neighbor is structuring money, experimenting with chemicals, and associating with other middle-easterners for devious reasons. Written by rAjOo (gunwanti@hotmail.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some threatening situations | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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UK | USA | Canada


English | Arabic

Release Date:

11 September 2008 (Brazil) See more »

Also Known As:

Dever Cívico See more »


Box Office


$3,400,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$54,902, 6 May 2007, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$54,902, 6 May 2007
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The cast has strong ties to Aaron Sorkin's television projects: Peter Krause starred as anchor Casey McCall in Sports Night (1998), Richard Schiff was communications director Toby Ziegler on The West Wing (1999), and Kari Matchett did a five-episode run on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (2006) as attorney Mary Tate. See more »


In the hostage situation, Hassan has been cut on the scar under his left eye, but it goes from bloody to not bloody to bloody again in subsequent shots. His hands are tied so he could not have wiped it clean. See more »


Bank Teller: Did you know sir, in the future you can also use the ATM machine just outside the front doors and avoid the waiting in line for a teller?
Terry Allen: Yes I did, thank you.
Bank Teller: I love our customers prefer that option actually.
Terry Allen: Really? Do you know what ATM stands for ? Automatic Teller Machine. So when you say ATM machine, what you're actually saying is automatic teller machine machine. Now either you're just being ignorantly redundant or you really want to emphasize that machine part. In which case you're not ...
See more »


Referenced in (500) Days of Summer (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

TV News Junkie
21 October 2007 | by LechuguillaSee all my reviews

Peter Krause plays Terry Allen, a laid-off accountant with time on his hands. As he updates his resume he becomes obsessed with the new tenant who has moved into an apartment across the courtyard, a man of Middle Eastern origin, whose behavior seems suspicious to Allen. Of course, Allen is one of these people who never learned that there is nothing more deceptive than superficial appearances.

The real basis of Allen's obsession is television "news", which he constantly has on, blaring out scary headlines and hints of "terror". Allen's wife Marla (well played by Kari Matchett) tries to be the voice of reason. But she is no match for the nonstop fear message coming from the boob tube. And the more Allen connects the TV message to the suspicious stranger, the more paranoid and irrational Allen becomes.

It's a highly relevant story, one wherein Allen represents many gullible Americans who take at face value everything they hear on TV. In the real world, most people have psychological brakes that prevent them from acting on their fears. Allen does not have those brakes, and he reacts accordingly.

"Civic Duty" is mostly a visual film; dialogue is fairly minimal. However, some of the lines convey the film's theme. In one confrontation Terry tells Marla: "We all have to be the eyes and ears now (for the FBI)". To which Marla responds: "If you weren't up here all day long spying on our neighbors like some paranoid right-wing whack ..."; Terry retorts: "Just because they're paranoid doesn't mean they're wrong ...".

The film's pace in the first half is fine; the plot moves along at a good clip. In the second half, the pace slows, as viewers must endure a tedious police standoff. A chase sequence in the second half is unnecessary filler. The lack of inquisitive neighbors provides the basis for an obvious plot hole, particularly as we approach the film's climax.

Cinematography is adequate; the emphasis is on close up shots, even extreme close-ups. Lighting trends toward low level. Overall acting is slightly above average. Richard Schiff, as the low-key, laconic FBI agent, gives an especially good performance. Background music is fairly creepy, and when combined with the dark visuals and minimal dialogue, creates a fair amount of suspense.

The real "message" of this film is the dreadful effect that television "news" has on many Americans. In effect, "Civic Duty" is the cinematic expression of media critic Marshall McLuhan's famous line, some forty years ago: "The medium is the message".

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