‘Central Intelligence’ Has Hart, but Little Intelligence or Heart

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A dumb-downed script that relies way too heavily on the charisma, charm, and comedy chops of Kevin Hart. It plays like a Disney Channel movie but with loads of language, violence, and sexual humor. 2 out of 5.

Synopsis

Calvin Joyner (Hart) is an average guy in an average job. Back in the mid-90s, he was the most successful and popular guy at his high school, even voted Most Likely To Succeed. Today, Calvin feels like a failure. On the eve of his 20th Class Reunion, he reconnects with “the fat kid” who everyone mocked, Robbie Weirdick – a last name that’s used for countless crass remarks, naturally. Robbie (Dwayne Johnson) now goes by Bob Stone and, more shockingly, is in phenomenal shape. Zero-fat, bulked up, and ripped with muscles, he’s a perfect physical specimen. Bob also happens to work for the CIA. Before he knows it, Calvin is swept up with Bob into a dangerous operation of international espionage that threatens our national security – but Calvin’s not sure if Bob can be trusted, or if he’s a traitor.

What Works?

Very little aside from Hart, who works overtime with his manic energy and wince-inducing pratfalls. The script is so dull and uninspired (not to mention unfunny), it’s likely the few laughs that actually pop up were Hart ad-libs. Beyond that, this is a comedy in serious need of a laugh track because the film itself sure isn’t providing them.

What Doesn’t?

Primarily the script. There’s little that’s actually funny about it. The screenplay merely constructs a goofy premise and then expects Hart and Johnson to act goofy in it. Hart fares much better than Johnson, though. “The Rock” doesn’t have the comedic talent, skills, or instincts to match. The hook for Bob Stone is that, despite his physical transformation, he remains a socially clueless dweeb. Johnson’s task is to make Stone both funny and loveable, yet he’s unable to take the character beyond simplistic overdone shtick. That may work for a comedy sketch but not a feature film. Also, with Stone’s elite spy skills, it makes no sense that he’d absolutely need Calvin Joyner – an average accountant – to access and decipher top secret financial data. The entire movie is based on a ridiculous contrivance. The action’s not particularly inventive either. And to top it off: given the lack of actual humor, the script doubles down on profanity and crass sexual references.

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SOURCE: Crosswalk – Jeffrey Huston

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