This past Sunday night, my wife and I were talking about movies while we were putting our kiddo to bed and the conversation turned to Baywatch which was released a couple days prior. I mentioned that it had fallen into “rental” territory for me given the horrid reviews it’s been getting and after tanking at the box office, to which my wife replied “Well you better figure out how to get me my fix of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson if we’re not going to the theaters for Baywatch!” Oops….. Luckily, that was when I remembered that I had seen that Central Intelligence was on one of the myriad streaming services we have – crisis averted! So after the kiddo was asleep, we poured some beers, and fired up the Apple TV to, hopefully, watch a solid comedy (which are in terribly short supply in modern times).
Let’s dig into it!
Central Intelligence follows Robbie Wierdicht, played by Dwayne Johnson, and Calvin Joyner, played by Kevin Hart, as they find each other, 20 years after Calvin helped out Robbie following a horrific prank played on him by the school bullies. As their 20 year high school reunion approaches, Robbie reemerges after disappearing following the prank and asks Calvin out for a beer and it soon becomes clear that Robbie is a very different person than he was in high school.
The casting for Central Intelligence is pretty spot on for the needs of the movie, there’s no denying the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has all the charisma in the world (the man basically sung a show tune in Moana for God’s sake and we all bought it hook, line, and sinker) and Kevin Hart is slowly gaining more and more steam as a new go-to in Hollywood for comedies. So the only question was, would the two work together well and they absolutely do.
Their combination of comedic talents is really the back bone of this movie and is what carries the, somewhat forgettable, plot. As the two characters continue to interact, the way that Johnson just oozes awkward hero worship on to Hart is outstanding and you truly feel that awkwardness coming through the screen at you. For Hart’s part, he does an solid job of playing the one on the receiving end of the hero worship and not knowing how to take it, especially since his character peaked in high school and he has never gotten back to that level of inflated ego.
As for the story, the plot stays pretty solid throughout, although with a movie like this plot holes aren’t the end of the world. It does play a bit coy with the reveal and tries, with some success, to lead you down a few potential paths before revealing the true villain which made it more entertaining. There are a few running jokes that, in my opinion, provide some of the highlights of the movie. Also, the ending does leave it open for a sequel (shocker, I know) and I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing a sequel provided that the story is good enough.
Now, I’m gonna get a little deep here so bear with me… (phrasing, HA!). A lot of movies and television shows these days try to imbue a moral into their story telling and most of the time it comes off as heavy handed to the point of being ham-fisted and preachy. I’m looking at you Elysium and Supergirl. But oddly enough, Central Intelligence, manages to tell the audience something really important with out beating them over the head with it. As I explained above, Robbie is the victim of a malicious prank and Calvin is the only one to help him out. Fast forward 20 years and even though Robbie has the better physique, the better life, the better job, and is all around the “cooler” guy, Robbie still looks up to Calvin in every single way not just because that’s how it was in high school but because, at his absolutely lowest point imaginable, Calvin was the only one to show him mercy and help him. It may be hyperbolized and played for laughs in the movie, but it goes to show how one small act of kindness can change the direction of someone’s life.
The best way to give my final verdict on Central Intelligence, is that it’s a great way to spend a lazy Sunday evening. A solid if somewhat forgettable comedy with an accidentally/on purpose message that’s well worth watching on a streaming service or renting on the cheap.
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Until next time, Thank You for reading and…
SEE YOU AT THE CINEMA!