Central Intelligence Review
When Calvin Joyner accepts a friend request on Facebook he has no idea what he's letting himself in for
The latest in a string of buddy movies, but this one has laughs throughout - right up until the end.The buddy movie has been a regular on the big screen for years and it’s a generally failsafe theme for a good comedy. This year's buddy movie features the diminutive Kevin Hart as Calvin Joyner, a former high school hero who was voted most likely to succeed but is now struggling to accept his average, everyday life with his high school sweetheart wife Maggie (Danielle Nicolet).Central Intelligence begins with a flash back to 20 years ago at the end of the senior year at Central High School. What should have been a time for celebration turns out to be a nightmare come true for one unfortunate student. Less than popular, overweight Robbie Weirdicht suffers a humiliating ordeal in front of his whole high school year. Only one student offers Robbie some help, ‘Golden Jet’ Calvin Joyner.
Fast forward to the present and Calvin is working as an accountant, a job he feels doesn’t quite live up to the huge amount of expectation put upon him back in high school. His wife is a successful lawyer and with a high school reunion coming up she is more than excited to show off how far she has come and just how good she looks; Calvin on the other hand is slightly reluctant to go back and share his successes fearing he hasn’t lived up to his former reputation.
That is until a strange friend request on Facebook reunites him with Bob Stone, a.k.a Robbie Weirdicht (Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson) who has shed over 200lbs and is now a giant muscle beefcake, with a soft cuddly centre who also happens to work for the CIA. What starts out as a couple of old school chums reminiscing over a couple of beers, soon turns into a race against time to stop the selling of some top secret government information in a conspiracy spy plot.
The odd couple theme works well in this light-hearted comedy. The chemistry between Hart and Johnston is apparent from the get-go and together the one-liners just keep on coming. It is a bit of a slow start and it does reach a point where you’re left wondering if it’s actually going anywhere, but it picks up and when it does it is, mostly, worth the wait.
I am not a huge fan of this sort of film and tend to give them a wide birth, but having said that, I did find this reasonably enjoyable. The central conspiracy plot is spread rather thin and is really only used as a backdrop for Johnson and Hart to get into some tricky and funny situations. The therapy scene is a stand-out and has some even funnier scenes in the outtakes at the end - so stick around for those!
Johnson and Hart have bags of chemistry and are set to be this year's comedy duo
Central Intelligence is, as you might expect, pretty formulaic and follows the typical conventions of a film within this genre. However, despite some predictability it can be forgiven as the comedy allows it to get away with it. The humour does have moments of being a bit old and dated, mostly on Hart’s part, but generally speaking it’s quite funny throughout.
Johnson actually, and for me surprisingly, does really well in a comedy role - the script was written perfectly for him and his enormous stature only heightens the humour inherent in his love of unicorns, Taylor Swift and Sixteen Candles (with a brilliant reenactment at the end) The ending did get a bit moralistic and sensitive but I suppose that it is to be expected from a film whose main character suffered at the hands of bullies.
There are a few cameo performances worth mentioning, firstly from Jason Bateman who plays Trevor, one of Robbie’s bullies from school and from Melissa McCarthy - both of whom were perfectly cast in their roles. Aaron Paul plays Bob’s partner and despite having a reasonably small role plays it quite well, and if you pay attention he even (perhaps on purpose, I’m not sure) references his previous character Jessie, from Breaking Bad.
Central Intelligence isn’t going to shake you to your core and it’s probably not going to be on your list of top movies to watch again, but if you want two hours of mindless entertainment and a few laughs then this is your ticket.
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