MOVIE BUFF-ET: Johnson, Hart score predictable laughs in Central Intelligence


When I went to the theater Thursday night, I had every intention of seeing Pixar’s latest Finding Dory, but something happened on the way from the car to the box office.

Maybe it was my cocker spaniel-like attention span or possibly the stream of 8-year-olds with their moms in tow also making their way into the theater? I’m not sure, but instead of going where I was headed I veered off to see Central Intelligence, the new Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart action-comedy.

New In Local Theaters

  • Central Intelligence (PG-13) 1 hr., 54 mins.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Rogers)
    » Watch trailer
  • Finding Dory (PG) 1 hr., 42 mins.
    (Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle)
    » Watch trailer
  • X-Men: Apocalypse (112 Drive Inn) (PG-13) 2 hrs., 25 mins.
    9 p.m. Friday-Sunday
    » Watch trailer
  • Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (112 Drive Inn) (R) 1 hr., 32 mins.
    11:40 p.m. Friday-Sunday
    » Watch trailer

I have little doubt the animated fish-finding film is the better movie, but as one whose formative years spanned into the 1980s, it’s hard for me to pass up an action flick featuring comedic pals, who begrudgingly teach each other life lessons in some sort of outlandish scenario or the other.

Hart plays Calvin “The Golden Jet” Joyner, the littlest big man on campus that you’ve ever seen. Despite marring his gorgeous and successful high-school sweetheart and settling into a solid accounting job, Calvin is experiencing a mid-life crisis as his 20th high-school reunion approaches.

On the other hand, Johnson’s Bob Stone is almost unrecognizable from his high school days as a bullied “fat kid,” who had a penchant for singing En Vogue tunes in the locker room shower. Stone, known as Robbie Weirdicht as a teen, has transformed himself into The Rock the American public knows and adores by “working out six hours every day for the last 20 years,” following a bullying incident in which Calvin was the lone person to offer him any kindness.

Using the reunion as a ruse to meet with Calvin, Stone, who is now a CIA operative, needs Calvin to use his knowledge of international banking to help on a case. Calvin, who has lost track of just how good as life he has, is then thrust into Stone’s world of espionage, gunplay and mind twists. Is Stone a good agent needing to clear his name, or is he the dreadful double agent the Black Badger?

There’s nothing all that inventive going on in the film that does contain perfunctory action and laughs. The two stars size disparity and personality quirks set up an interesting contrast that provides much of the fun. I liked it well enough, but your feelings about the movie will likely depend upon your opinion of Johnson and especially Hart.

Johnson’s has loads of charm and charisma, and he’s effective playing a bit against type with his easy-going, positive-thinking, unicorn-loving, fanny-pack wearing, and yet still burly CIA agent.

Hart, however, is playing the same overanxious and exasperated character he has in each of his films. For the most part, I find Hart funny, but I can see how his shtick could grate on the nerves. He may have to broaden his acting repertoire to remain a viable movie star, although I could see him taking this same act to TV for a sit-com some day.

Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman appear in cameo roles that are fun, particularly Bateman’s as an adult version of one of Stone’s high school bullies.

What can I say; the movie had me laughing. If you like The Rock or Hart, you might consider seeing it some time. If not, check out “Finding Nemo.”

Grade: C+

Classic Corner

Sixteen Candles

One of the minor jokes in the new Dwayne Johnson-Kevin Hart action-comedy Central Intelligence is that Johnson’s CIA agent character’s favorite movie is Sixteen Candles.

Molly Ringwald starred in the John Hughes’ 1984 classic as the middle child whose 16th-birthday is overshadowed by the impending nuptials of her older sister, while she pines for the older class hunk played by Michael Schoeffling, who is also secretly interested in her.

Ringwald is plagued Anthony Michael Hall nerdy advances, until they confide in each other at high school dance. Could Hall’s character here and ones he played in other Hughes movies could be the genesis of what has become known as Geek culture? Maybe?

To younger viewers, the film is likely dated like the old Andy Hardy movies, which featured Mickey Rooney, were to kids in the 1980s, but like many of Hughes’ films, it deals with some essential and funny truths about adolescence.

Some have claimed the movie is racist and sexist, and while those arguments may be valid to a degree, at its heart, the film is about looking past the stereotypes we get trapped in and finding a person’s true and unique identity. A movie as entertaining as Sixteen Candles, featuring that theme can’t be all that bad.