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Movie Night – ‘Central Intelligence’ has unlikely pairing

By Bradley Griffth

In the history of unlikely duos in the movies the pairing of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart may be the most unlikely.  What may be even more unlikely is that the team of the very large Johnson and the pint-sized Hart actually works.  You can now rent this duo’s performance in “Central Intelligence.”

The movie begins with a short, but pivotal scene.  The year is 1996 and Calvin “The Golden Jet” Joyner (Hart) is a senior in high school.  Calvin is the big man on campus.  He’s a multi-sport star, makes good grades, was voted most likely to succeed, and is loved by everyone.

Robbie Wierdicht (Johnson) is at the opposite end of the spectrum.  He’s overweight, unpopular, and picked on by other, so-called “cool,” guys.  Robbie is the kid who can’t wait for high school be over.

In the final assembly of Calvin’s senior year he is being honored in the gym in front of the entire school.  As he is giving a speech the school bullies pull Robbie out of the shower and toss him into the middle of the gym floor completely naked for the entire school to see.  Everyone laughs at Robbie.  Everyone buy Calvin and his girlfriend, Maggie (Danielle Nicolet).  Calvin gives Robbie his letterman jacket to cover himself.  Robbie runs out of the gym and is never seen again by anyone at that high school.

Fast-forward twenty years and Calvin is married to Maggie.  Their high school reunion is in two days and Maggie wants to go.  Though Calvin has a good life, he’s not satisfied with being an accountant.  He’s ashamed to go to the reunion and everyone find out the Golden Jet is just an ordinary person.

Calvin receives a friend request on Facebook from Bob Stone.  He learns that Bob Stone is actually Robbie Weirdicht.  Calvin agrees to meet Bob for drinks and is surprised to find that Bob Stone is a huge, musclebound man with serious fighting skills.

Bob insinuates himself into Calvin’s life, even spending the night at his house.  The next morning the CIA shows up looking for Bob, claiming that he is a murderer and traitor.  Calvin doesn’t know who to trust.  Bob really doesn’t give Calvin much of a choice when Bob shows up in every aspect of Calvin’s life until he agrees to help Bob.  Calvin has to determine who to trust and who is the real traitor.

I had my reservations about the pairing of Johnson and Hart, but I’m happy to say that they were unfounded.  The two play off each other very well, using their vast difference in size to their comedic advantage.  While the acting performances of both Hart and Johnson are a little over the top, that’s kind of the point in a silly comedy and they are right on the mark in “Central Intelligence.”

For a movie that is so silly with so many ridiculous things occurring, the story behind all the hijinks is decent.  Bob Stone was once a shy, overweight kid but is now a butt-kicking super spy while Hart was once the king of his high school and is now disappointed because he didn’t turn out to be someone who changed the world.  It’s a classic reversal of roles story.

The best part about the movie is that it’s a comedy that is actually funny.  While that may seem like a strange statement, more and more movies that are supposed to be comedies rely on trying to outdo other movies by increasing the gross-out factor without adding any laughs.

“Central Intelligence” is certainly not for children, but rather than being concerned with topping other movies, it provides many laughs, a few that might just make you fall out of your seat.

Grade: B+

Rated PG-13 for crude and suggestive humor, some nudity, action violence, and brief strong language.