Film Review: “Central Intelligence”

centralintel-posterStarring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart and Amy Ryan
Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 54 mins
Warner Bros

Our Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

Film Review By Mike Smith

It’s 1996. The last day of high school. And two young men are about to have two very different experiences. For Calvin “the Golden Jet” Joyner, it’s a day spent receiving the accolades of your classmates as you are honored for your achievements in, well, pretty much everything. For Robbie Weirdict, it’s a final day of humiliation, as the portly youngster is tossed, naked, into the middle of the same assembly.

20 years later, Calvin (Hart) finds himself stuck in a job he doesn’t really love, spending more time on Facebook than work. When he gets a friend request from Bob Stone (Johnson), he hesitates at first then, like most people, accepts it. He soon learns that Bob is really Robbie and that he has changed quite a bit. When the two mismatched men reunite it’s an eye opening for both of them.

Funny as hell, with a sweet message built in, “Central Intelligence” is successful in part thanks to its genius casting, which makes Hart the Bud Abbott-like straight man while Johnson grabs the majority of the laughs. And what isn’t funny about a guy Johnson’s size who shows up everywhere wearing a fanny pack? It seems Bob may or may not be a rogue C.I.A. agent looking to sell weapons to the highest bidder. He enlists Calvin’s help in part because Calvin was the only person who seemed genuinely friendly to him in the past, while Calvin goes along because he still feels sorry for what Robbie went through in school.

Hart has learned to tone down his Chris Tucker-like screaming and gives a fine performance here. The supporting cast is just as good, including Ryan as the C.I.A. agent in charge of finding Bob and Danielle Nicolet as Calvin’s high school sweetheart and now wife. But the real star here is Johnson. Always a very likable performer, his comedic work here recalls his standout performance in 2005’s “Be Cool.” A gentle giant with a heart of gold, Bob Stone seems ready to greet the world each morning with a smile. It’s Bob that makes this film the best comedy of the summer so far.


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