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Central Intelligence

Coming Soon

Pop culture quiz. Have you heard of Kevin Hart? How about Dwayne Johnson (maybe calling him Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson might help your memory)? Those are trick questions since there’s no way these two names aren’t familiar to the public. And putting these two large personalities together in a movie seems like a no-brainer. Why hasn’t this happened sooner? Kevin Hart is Hollywood hotness when it comes to buddy comedies. Some of his previous movie partners include the likes of Ice Cube, Josh Gad and Will Ferrell. Each offering contrasting personality walls of which Hart plays off of nicely. None of those, however, appear quite as large as the one his current co-star casts both figuratively and literally. Dwayne Johnson looks to provide the perfect complimentary partner with his continued maturation in the world of comedy. Central Intelligence has all the makings of another “buddy comedy” hit.
Stepping back twenty years to 1996, we are introduced to the pride and joy of Central High School. Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) is loved, respected and admired by both students and faculty alike. This kid is going places! Then there’s Robbie Weirdick (Dwayne Johnson), the poor kid with no friends that has become the poster child for being the butt of cruel jokes and pranks. In Robbie’s darkest moment, Calvin was there to throw him a lifeline. A kind gesture that would never be forgotten as it turns out. Life has a way of balancing itself out as both Calvin and Robbie come to realize over the next two decades. Calvin is now stuck in an unsatisfying job as an accountant and Robbie, well Robbie hasn’t been seen or heard from since high school. Calvin is married to his high school sweetheart, Maggie (Danielle Nicolet), but is unhappy that he never lived up to his so-called high school potential.
In dealing with his mundane life, Calvin decides that he wants to avoid his high school’s 20th reunion. Calvin receives a friend request on Facebook from a Bob Stone which he accepts out of curiosity. As it turns out, Bob Stone (Johnson) is the student formerly known as Robbie Weirdick. Nothing about the adult version resembles that his high school punching bag counterpart. As the story progresses Calvin learns that there’s MUCH MORE going on with Bob than he could have ever imagined. Bob is caught up in some government spy conspiracy and puts poor unsuspecting Calvin right in the thick of things. As the story goes deeper, the facts become murkier and the truth is all but completely covered. Who to trust becomes the big question here. What is not in question is the comedy that will be experienced in this zany ride.
Yes, it does appear (at least on the surface) that Kevin Hart continues to play the same type of character in just about all of his movies. He’s a loud-mouthed extremely animated individual that’s always in some type of mess. The thing is, this strategy works more times than not. More importantly however, studios profit from it (as does Hart) so why not continue walking this path until it ends? As for the former wrestling personality known simply as The Rock, his transformation from that to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to simply being Dwayne Johnson has been an impressive evolution. He is a legit Hollywood star that is able dominate in two separate genres now, Action and Comedy. Putting him in an action comedy is a perfect fit and it shows once again as he doesn’t miss a beat with Kevin Hart. This duo will hopefully be seen again together in a future movie.
The story isn’t new or groundbreaking but it is pretty well thought out. There’s enough going on in Central Intelligence to keep the mind stimulated while waiting on the next comical moment. Onto the comical moments now, there are quite a few of them. Director Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004), We’re the Millers (2013)) does a great job of balancing action, intrigue, twists and of course, comedy throughout the film’s almost two hour runtime. With the strong personalities of both Hart and Johnson, Thurber gives each ample time to shine. Also, his use of other complementary characters to further advance the story is a nice touch. It’s clear that this was not a lazy phone-in effort meant just to create box office revenue by riding big names to the bank.
It’s difficult to proclaim that Central Intelligence sets itself apart from other comedies due to this or that so I’m not going to bother. What I will tell you is that it is a comedy worthy of your time and by extension, your money as it checks off all of the important boxes of movies by today’s standards. No it isn’t life changing by any stretch of the imagination, however it is two hours of fun and laughter. If Kevin Hart is one of those people that annoys you for some reason or another, there isn’t much here that’ll change your mind. If you aren’t in that minority of people, by all means check this one out. It’s good stuff.

Central Intelligence is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Carl Wheeler

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