20 years after high school graduation, Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) is contacted via facebook by former class mate Bob Stone – f/k/a Bob Weirdicht (Dwayne Johnson), and drawn into a game of international espionage. In this caper, Calvin cannot tell who the good and bad guys are. He has to trust his instincts to get to the truth of the mystery because he can neither blindly trust someone he went to school with 20 years ago who he barely consider an acquaintance, nor the U.S. government.
Calvin was the golden boy in high school and Bob was the object of severe bullying. Calvin was the one kid at school who never laughed at Bob and knew the pranking and bullying he suffered was wrong. The movie explores the lasting effects of bullying and how acts of kindness and compassion can act as a lifeline.
Now, is the movie funny? Aside from the opening scene, I was a good 30-35 minutes into it before I got another good laugh, but once they got started it was pretty funny – here and there. Kevin Hart is a funny little man with a funny voice and funny mannerisms. His character’s hysterics and outrage over being dragged into this unexpected, wild situation made for many comedic moments. The Rock is just beautiful… Oh, I’m sorry. I drifted off. I meant to say, The Rock can be funny as well. He did a fair job changing his character from this super-tough CIA agent to the unpopular, lonely, insecure, fat kid everyone made fun of at school, and back again. The man has mastery of his facial expressions and can turn it off and on like a switch – and the changes are not subtle, so it is funny – at times – and at other times it helps to confuse the viewer as to what Bob’s intentions really are. The contrast in size between Calvin and Bob is ridiculously funny and was highlighted regularly.
This movie was very emotionally mature for a comedy, including a lot of serious reflection and self-examination, which, in my opinion, took away from the some of the humor and fun of it all. You don’t always want frat house humor, but you also don’t want a comedy with themes that are so serious or dense that they take a lot of time to develop, explain and explore. On a positive note, the PG-13 rating prevented much swearing (there may have been one “bad” word – and when it was used, it was funny), so, I appreciate that whatever humor there was relied on comedy and not vulgarity. There is enough gunplay, hand-to-hand combat, stunts and antics in the actions scenes, and the stunts are well choreographed.
Central Intelligence earned 6.5 bloops. It’s a good movie that could have been better – but it wasn’t bad. Worth seeing if you’re a fan of Kevin Hart and/or The Rock. It is a mostly light movie that will give you a few good chuckles.