Central Intelligence

Central Intelligence posterYes – Central Intelligence is kinda stupid. But in a week dominated by one tragic news story after another, I was happy to take the levity wherever I could find it. And I did get a few decent laughs out of this twisted buddy comedy with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin “perennial sidekick” Hart. It’s the tale of two guys reunited (via Facebook friend request) on the eve of their 20-year high school reunion: Bob Stone, the oft-bullied overweight geek formerly known as Robbie Wierdicht who grew into a lethal CIA agent (Johnson), and Calvin “Golden Jet” Joyner, the popular jock/most-likely-to-succeed prom king who became a mild-mannered accountant leading a stable but staid existence devoid of excitement and drama. See where this is going?

Turns out the now-buff Bob needs Calvin’s accounting skills to help track down a terrorist known as the “Black Badger” and proceeds to draw the unsuspecting Calvin into a world of shoot-outs, double-crosses and espionage. In the biggest twist to what is in many ways a formulaic action-comedy-crime-drama buddy movie, Hart plays the straight man to Johnson’s outrageous, dangerous, sensitive, dorky, and unpredictable Secret Agent Man. Think Ride Along in reverse. The film is apparently set in Baltimore County (with references to Woodlawn and an airfield in Pikesville) though folks like me who grew up in Baltimore County will be hard-pressed to find any identifiable landmarks (really? a private airfield in Pikesville?!). Anyway, it’s not a great movie, but Johnson and Hart play well off each other, making for a much better team (with much better acting) than Hart and Ice Cube displayed recently in Ride Along 2. Central Intelligence certainly doesn’t need a sequel, but if it does well enough at the box office, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one in the not-too-distant future.

For more sophisticated adult comedy, I would recommend Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping and The Nice Guys over Central Intelligence. But I suspect CI will out-perform both of those in its opening weekend – for sheer escapist value. The trailer pretty much says/shows it all. So if you chuckle your way through the preview, then sure, check it out. Or, just wait for the rental. It really doesn’t need to be seen on the big screen. But then again, it has been a rather depressing week…

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