The premise is stupid, the characters are nuts and the plot completely bonkers but somehow Central Intelligence manages to deliver a pretty satisfying comedy that, whilst hardly memorable in the years to come, is a feel-good comedy and is good entertainment while it lasts. There’s some surprisingly smart writing that opens up questions about the psychological impact of bullying which is a nice touch but the main draw here is the great chemistry between Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson who both seem intent on making the best possible comedy.
The story begins with a young, afro-clad Bob (Dwayne Johnson) singing in the shower as a high school student. Overweight and humiliated by his fellow students, Bob is surprised when he finds popular kid Calvin (Kevin Hart) gives him a helping hand amidst a hall of ringing laughter. Cue forward and we follow Calvin who’s settled down with his high school sweetheart and finds himself stuck in a rut. Much to his reluctance, he goes along to the school reunion and re-acquants himself with Bob who’s not only lost weight, but replaced them with bulgy muscles and a confident attitude. Before Calvin realizes what’s happening, hes whisked up on a journey surrounded in espionage, action and where death threatens at every turn.
As crazy as the story is, the characters are the main draw here with Kevin Hart playing Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson playing a camp version of his charismatic self. Seeing Bob fighting whilst wearing a pink unicorn shirt is one of the more surreal take aways from this film. There’s no denying that as a comedy, Central Intelligence does a pretty good job of delivering.
Although I can’t fault the film for its intentions, its spy premise does feel a little well-worn at this time and it does feel like an instantly forgettable experience. That’s not to say its bad, quite the opposite, but its certainly not a classic either. So what we get is a film that does deliver some good laughs but not much else. It’s the equivalent of candy floss – an enjoyable experience for sure but when its gone, it melts away and doesn’t leave a lasting impression.
Overall, Central Intelligence is a fun, mindless comedy that does raise some questions about bullying but its spy story overshadows it with an action-comedy that delivers some good laughs. The endearing couple, Johnson and Hart, are at their best here when they’re working together and feeding off their enthusiastic energy and it spills over to the entire film. There’s a drive to make a decent comedy and whilst its not an overly memorable experience, Central Intelligence is a good ride while it lasts.