Film Review by Fiore
As I have stated numerous previous times, I’m not a fan of Kevin Hart’s stand-up comedy. I find it provides a few laughs, but not enough for me to consider buying a ticket. His appearance in comedy movies, however, is quite another issue. He is very funny on celluloid, and in his latest escapade, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE, he is teamed with Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson creating one of the best comedy teams since Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.
To be certain, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE follows a comedic template and offers nothing new in the formula established for a three act screenplay. In fact, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE follows closely the pattern established in Hart’s RIDE ALONG. In that movie, he was the foil, while Ice Cube played the serious straight man. In CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE, the roles are reversed; Hart plays it straight and serves as the set up agent, while Johnson is in this solely for laughs. He is exceptionally good. Johnson is proving to be a tour de force in Tinseltown. He can play the protagonist, and antagonist and do comedy with aplomb. Personally, I like when he’s the heavy, but in this movie he is funnier than his character Elliot Wilhelm in Gary Gray’s BE COOL.
Robert Weirdicht (Johnson) is the high school target. A fat, chubby boy who likes unicorns and dancing, he is bullied by nearly everyone, save the most popular kid in the school, Calvin Joyner (Hart) the Golden Jet, who captains every sports team and is voted most likely to succeed.
After a rather embarrassing moment at the high school senior assembly, Weirdicht disappears for twenty years. He reunites with Joyner years later as Bob Stone, revealing himself as a CIA operative, trying to save the civilized world. Together, the two former school mates are placed on a knife edge of deception and delirium.
Starring with Johnson and Hart are Amy Ryan, as Agent Pamela Harris, who is convinced Stone is a rogue agent; Danielle Nicolet as Maggie Joyner, Calvin’s wife, who thinks Calvin’s sudden strange behavior has to do with their failing marriage; and Melissa McCarthy, who makes an uncredited cameo appearance at the film’s end.
KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
1. The office scene.
2. The escape from the safe house.
3. The marriage counselor scene.
Ironically, I was engaged in a discussion just the other day regarding the sad state of comedy films. My argument was that not many comedy films today have enduring qualities, like the Peter Sellers PINK PANTHER series. Those films still illicit guffaws, decades after they were made. Nothing by today’s comedy stars, Sandler, Ferrell, Rogen and others of their ilk, can compare. CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE may be the exception to the maxim. Ike Barinholtz has penned a script devoid of juvenile bathroom humor and political commentary, enabling the laughs to last for years.
Hart and Johnson have great timing and work well together. It’s a partnership we should see again. If you’re looking for an evening of laughs, you can’t miss with CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE.
THE GRADE FOR CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE = B