Two of the hardest working men in Hollywood, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart team up in the new action/comedy Central Intelligence. From director Rawson Marshall Thurber (We’re the Millers, Dodgeball), comes the lazily clichéd story with two stars who elevate an extremely sub-par script. Going into a movie like Central Intelligence with high story expectations is a mistake nobody should make, at the same time, I was hoping for something better than what was presented. The shining moments of the film feature our two leads and their exquisite chemistry together generating some genuine laughs. The problems came watching the plot unfold and knowing exactly how the film was going to end.
Central Intelligence begins 20 years in the past when Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart), the most popular kid in high school is receiving an award at a pep rally, when the overnight and over bullied Robbie Weirdicht (The Rock) is pushed out of the locker room naked and embarrassed in front of the entire school. The only person to help him is Calvin, who becomes Robbie’s guardian angel for life. Cut back to the present and Calvin’s life hasn’t exactly gone according to plan. He became an accountant and lives what he thinks is an incredibly unremarkable life. Robbie on the other hand, now going by Bob Stone, shed the pounds and has became a Jason Bourne like CIA agent. With an impending high school reunion on the horizon, Bob brings Calvin along as he attempts to clear his name for the murder of his partner.
What Keeps Central Intelligence from being a decent flick is its terribly laid out story. The film requires you to have feelings towards the characters and their relationship, yet there is absolutely no depth to be had. Instead of building the relationship up in a meaningful way that, we are given a scene or two of silly exposition. I suppose I’m expecting too much for a film like this, I just expect better. It’s lazily written, and it feels like they rushed a script and just said f#ck it, lets just let Hart and Johnson riff. Now this isn’t a bad idea, these two riffing and taking cues from one-another is hilarious (as shown in the outtakes), the two actors just needed a better story for a truly memorable mainstream comedy.
Besides the underdeveloped characters, my other problem with the film is its misuse of potentially great cameo performances. There were a couple actors who popped up in the film that I was not expecting, and the filmmakers could and should have mined them for better comedy. Sure it’s the Hart/Rock show, but main characters are only as good as the people around them. I won’t name names, but I just wish they used these other characters more effectively. This point though just harkens back to my original problem, the story. If given more to do, we could’ve had a truly effective comedy.
Enough of the bad, what about the good? The main takeaway from the film as I previously mentioned is the chemistry between The Rock and Kevin Hart. The two are an excellent pairing, as noting by “Hollywood”, who will be bringing the two back together for the Jumanji reboot. In these broad comedies I personally think the plots often get in the way of the films being really funny. If Central Intelligence was lighter on the plot elements, and let our two stars improvise and riff off each other more, it would have made the film that much funnier. I’m excited to see what these two have in store for future movies, I just hope they choose or are given better material to show divisive audience member the star power most know they possess.
Is Central Intelligence a good movie? No. Is it worth catching it in theaters? Yes, but for only one reason. Like horror, I find comedies more enjoyable with large groups of people, and uch like The Rock and Kevin Hart, laughter is infectious. If you miss this in the theaters, it will make a great night at the Redbox. Spending $13 on a ticket hurts a bit, but spending $1.50 in a few months to watch it at home would be amazing. You know what you’re getting with a Kevin Hart/Rock movie, but I demand more. These two deserve better scripts and stories. Fingers crossed their next outing features a bit more heart.