"Dear Lord, please don't let him have a flashback to his WWE days and have him mistake me for D-Lo Brown!" Calvin (Kevin Hart) is cradled by his "therapist" – a.k.a. former high school acquaintance turned CIA agent Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson) in a scene from CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE. Credit: Claire Fogler © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Universal Pictures and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC. All rights reserved.


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, Danielle Nicolet, Amy Ryan, Ryan Hansen, Aaron Paul and Jason Bateman

WRITER(S): Ike Barinholtz, David Stassen and Rawson Marshall Thurber  (screenplay); Ike Barinholtz & David Stassen (story)

DIRECTOR(S): Rawson Marshall Thurber 


THE STORY AS BEST WE KNOW IT: In high school, Calvin Joyner – a.k.a. "The Golden Jet" – had it all: Popularity and status as both student body president, the homecoming king and top student ... Not to mention a beautiful girl in Maggie (Danielle Nicolet) by his side. Things were not so great, however, for Robbie (Dwayne Johnson), who was an En Vogue-loving overweight kid who was frequently the target of bullies, which culminated when he was thrown (literally) into the embarrassing spotlight during the last school assembly of their senior year.

Fast-forward 20 years later and Calvin, once voted most likely to succeed, is stuck in a dead-end job as an accountant while Maggie is a partner at her firm. And with their high school reunion coming up soon, Calvin is not feeling as successful as he once envisioned. Then, he gets a mysterious friend request on Facebook from a "Bob Stone" ... Only to discover it is in fact "Fat Robbie" – who has changed a LOT in the last 20 years. Hanging out for a night, Calvin has a very good time getting to know the new Bob, but there's just one thing he doesn't quite know yet ...

Bob Stone is an agent for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA for short) – and to stop an entity known only as "The Black Badger," he's going to need require Calvin's help.

WHO WILL LIKE THIS MOVIE THE MOST? Dwayne Johnson fans; fans of 1980s buddy comedies; Kevin Hart fans looking for him to do something, ANYTHING different than his usual offerings; people who value chemistry over story in films; anti-bullying organizations 

WHO WILL HATE THIS MOVIE THE MOST? People tired of Kevin Hart; people over the idea of the buddy cop/spy movie; people who believe the film could be better with a harder edge in tone, language and/or subject matter

SO IS IT GOOD, GREAT, JUST ALL RIGHT OR DOWNRIGHT AWFUL? A film that works largely due to the performance of its two leads, Central Intelligence features the best* acting of Kevin Hart's movie career, Central Intelligence delivers more laughs than you might expect en route to being a simple, entertaining film.

Kevin Hart is a seemingly unstoppable force of media. Backed by his HartBeat Productions and Plastic Cup Boyz teams, Hart is out to become the next Tyler Perry in a comedy sense by conquering all realms of media be it print, television, film, the Internet via his YouTube channel and even fashion. (In case you didn't know, Hart recently became the first stand-up comedian to have his own sneaker via Nike with his "Hustle Hart" training shoe.) And while he has risen to the point that Rolling Stone called him stand-up comedy's first mogul (there might be a few other comics that might have something to say about that), he has, well, in some people's eyes become a bit stale due to the staples of his shtick. Sure, he frequently jokes about his family, height, being thrown into awkward situations and how his height often throws him in awkward situations, to his fervent fan base, he is the consummate entertainer who appreciates every one who appreciates him. 

Likewise, Johnson has carved out quite a niche for himself as the most successful wrestler to make a transition to Hollywood ever. (Sorry, Hulk Hogan, it's not even close – especially when your movie career is best known for moments like this.) A man whose muscular physique has made him an action star in several film franchises (G.I. Joe, the Fast & Furious movies most recently), Johnson has shown a great range in his skill set playing everything from a vulnerable father (Snitch) to a Disney character ... Central Intelligence finds him utilizing both his phenomenal athletic abilities with his emotional ones to make you believe that Bob is quite capable of kicking the ass of every dude in a bar and yet still feeling the same overweight kid from high school when faced with his past demons. For a 6'5" musclebound man to be able to make you laugh, nearly cry AND be completely convincing as a one man weapon of mass destruction takes talent – and that combined with his chemistry with Hart playing the subdued – yes, you read that right – straight-laced fish out of water is what makes Central Intelligence enjoyable. Is it going to win any awards? Of course not! But will it give you your money's worth in laughs and good-hearted entertainment? Yes. 

Thrown in smaller but well-executed roles by Amy Ryan (who shows a nice comedic ability without forcing any lines), Silicon Valley's Kumail Nanjiani, Ryan Hansen as Hart's annoying office co-worker and – while not a laugh riot – you end up with a decent little comedy. There's also another celebrity cameo that is big fun at the film's climax –  but it would be an insult to your movie-going intelligence to spoil the fun by saying who it is.

And for a movie that's –for lack of a better word, just fun – there's no need to do that.

*Some people feel like Kevin Hart plays nothing but himself in every movie; in Central Intelligence, he does that to the point it's actually quite suitable for the character he is portraying.



Popular Posts