Sunday, June 19, 2016

Central Intelligence

1.5/4

Starring: Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet, Aaron Paul, Ryan Hansen

Rated PG-13 for Crude and Suggestive Humor, Some Nudity, Action Violence and Brief Strong Language

I could see how "Central Intelligence" could be a good thriller.  Take the wrongfully accused trope that Hitchcock loved and the audience wonder if the sidekick is friend or foe.  It's a good idea, and I'm surprised no one has done it yet.  Ironically, this is the only thing that works.  For an action comedy, the film doesn't thrill and only manages one or two laughs (which are weak at best).

In high school, Calvin "The Jet" Joyner (Hart) was on top of the world.  Everyone adored him, he was destined for great things, and so on.  You know the type.  Robbie Weirdicht (Johnson) was not.  Hugely overweight with limited social skills, Robbie is the butt of a merciless joke when he is literally thrown on the gym floor while nude (he was previously in the shower).  Calvin, since he's such a stand-up (ho ho) guy, gives him his jacket to cover himself.

Cut to 20 years later.  Calvin is now a mild-mannered accountant and having a mid-life crisis.  He was just passed over for a promotion which went to his ex-assistant.  Then he gets a friend request from Robbie, who now goes by Bob Stone, and is invited out for a beer.  Calvin is shocked to find that the chubby loner is now a towering Adonis.  One who happens to work for the CIA, and may be a traitor.  Through sheer bad luck, Calvin gets roped into helping Bob clear his name.  Or commit treason.

The majority of the film's humor is centered around Dwayne Johnson being socially awkward.  It's not an especially funny idea and it's even less so in execution.  I like Johnson as an actor.  His dramatic range is limited, but like Arnold Schwarzenegger, he has appeal and doesn't take himself too seriously.  He tries his best, but the script is so feeble that there's nothing he can do.

Likewise, Kevin Hart is similarly stunted.  Although I hated just about everything in "Soul Plane," Hart is growing on me.  I'm wondering what a comedian like him saw in a script like this.  The jokes have so little edge that they make "Leave it to Beaver" seem like "Borat."

Moments that are effective or funny are few.  Trust me, there are other, better ways to spend your time and money than sitting through "Central Intelligence."

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