Friday, June 17, 2016

Movie Review #441: "Central Intelligence" (2016)

Movie"Central Intelligence"
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 54 minutes
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Calvin "The Golden Jet" Joyner (Kevin Hart) was the coolest kid in high school. Now, 20 years later, his life hasn't turned out like he expected. One day, Calvin is approached on Facebook by an old classmate named Bob Stone, who Calvin doesn't really remember, but accepts as a friend anyway. It turns out Bob used to be the school fat kid, Robbie Weirdick (Dwayne Johnson), who was picked on mercilessly in high school. Bob is now a hulked-out CIA agent who needs Calvin's help on his latest case, but when other CIA members show up at Calvin's house claiming Bob is a traitor and is a wanted criminal, Calvin is left not knowing who to trust or what to do. 

"Central Intelligence" is directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, who is best known for his comedies "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" and "We're the Millers," both of which are films we actually really enjoy. It stars Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, who pair up as Bob Stone and Calvin Joyner in this buddy cop style action comedy. We have a sneaking suspicion the writers of this here flick were sitting in the writer's room one day repeating the tagline, "all you need is a little Hart and a big Johnson" over and over again, and out sprung the movie from of this single, solitary phrase. Could the entire thing be more than just a gimmicky tagline? Let's see!

We must start out our review by saying how we impressed we are that these two actors have such wonderful chemistry. Johnson and Hart work extremely well off of each other and make this movie as successful as it is. Johnson takes a step away his normal part by playing a bullied fat kid turned hulking super spy who still maintains the heart of a nerdy introvert. Hart plays the popular, outgoing high school jock turned repressed mid-level accountant who had the world at his fingertips but failed to capitalize on the life he wanted for himself. Dwayne Johnson is his usual charismatic self, a guy who is so damn charming and likable, you can't help but love him and laugh each time he speaks. He really does play these roles like they are made for him. Hart plays an atypical role here, that of the straight-man. He relinquishes control of the fast-talking starring role he is known for to allow for Johnson's over-the-top antics to shine front and center. Bob forces Calvin into a series of perilous situations that may or may not get them both killed, and even when Calvin says he's "out," we as the audience get the sense that he really wants to say he's "in" from the start.

We fully admit, the film does not begin well at all. We were a little worried as the opening sequence began rolling. You'll know which one we're talking about if you've seen the trailer. A high school senior is shown singing "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)" by En Vogue naked in the school showers, ready to be tormented by his peers, who are looming by the gym doors. As the person turns around, we see The Rock's CGI'ed face onto the body of a larger man. This offends us, and not in the way you might think. We don't care if we see fat, naked bodies displayed on the silver screen, hell, we see them every day when we wake up, but what offends us about this scene is that CGI! MAN! It is SO bad! Someone really beefed it in the editing room. Johnson's face looks like it has been badly copy pasted for a midterm project in a entry level photoshop class. Outside of one moment of true, honest sincerity, this entire opening scene is pretty damn rough. From there, we jump ahead 20 years to Calvin working as an accountant. He has a co-worker named Steve, played by Ryan Hansen, who is featured pretty heavily in the first act. We wanted him off of our screen within five seconds of his introduction. We don't know if we have ever seen Ryan Hansen in anything else, but after his obnoxious performance here, we can't say we ever want to see him again, either that or he's just that good as an actor. As the movie gets going, it starts to really build steam to some great moments of action and comedy, and not so coincidentally, the moment the movie got good was when Dwayne Johnson showed up.

If you're looking for a decent comedy to kill a few hours out of the heat and you like either Dwayne Johnson or Kevin Hart, "Central Intelligence" is the movie for you. Sure, the plot is very flimsy, but it only serves to take us on a journey in order to explore the real story of friendship being formed between Bob and Calvin. We get the feeling this was initially shot with the intention of being R-rated and was cut down massively in post-production order to receive a PG-13 rating. It becomes all the more apparent as the movie goes along with massive goofs, missing scenes, and random splicings. That being said, we laughed fairly consistently throughout its nearly 2 hour run time, and though we only groaned a few times, mostly at lines delivered by the aforementioned Ryan Hansen, the groans were still relatively large. This is a no harm, no foul type of summer comedy.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~67%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Spy"

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