Central Intelligence Has Hart, but Little Intelligence or Heart
- Jeffrey Huston Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2016 16 Jun
A dumb-downed script that relies way too heavily on the charisma, charm, and comedy chops of Kevin Hart. It plays like a Disney Channel movie but with loads of language, violence, and sexual humor. 2 out of 5.
Calvin Joyner (Hart) is an average guy in an average job. Back in the mid-90s, he was the most successful and popular guy at his high school, even voted Most Likely To Succeed. Today, Calvin feels like a failure. On the eve of his 20th Class Reunion, he reconnects with "the fat kid" who everyone mocked, Robbie Weirdick – a last name that’s used for countless crass remarks, naturally. Robbie (Dwayne Johnson) now goes by Bob Stone and, more shockingly, is in phenomenal shape. Zero-fat, bulked up, and ripped with muscles, he’s a perfect physical specimen. Bob also happens to work for the CIA. Before he knows it, Calvin is swept up with Bob into a dangerous operation of international espionage that threatens our national security – but Calvin’s not sure if Bob can be trusted, or if he’s a traitor.
Very little aside from Hart, who works overtime with his manic energy and wince-inducing pratfalls. The script is so dull and uninspired (not to mention unfunny), it’s likely the few laughs that actually pop up were Hart ad-libs. Beyond that, this is a comedy in serious need of a laugh track because the film itself sure isn’t providing them.
Primarily the script. There’s little that’s actually funny about it. The screenplay merely constructs a goofy premise and then expects Hart and Johnson to act goofy in it. Hart fares much better than Johnson, though. “The Rock” doesn't have the comedic talent, skills, or instincts to match. The hook for Bob Stone is that, despite his physical transformation, he remains a socially clueless dweeb. Johnson’s task is to make Stone both funny and loveable, yet he’s unable to take the character beyond simplistic overdone shtick. That may work for a comedy sketch but not a feature film. Also, with Stone’s elite spy skills, it makes no sense that he’d absolutely need Calvin Joyner – an average accountant – to access and decipher top secret financial data. The entire movie is based on a ridiculous contrivance. The action’s not particularly inventive either. And to top it off: given the lack of actual humor, the script doubles down on profanity and crass sexual references.
Christian Worldview Elements / Spiritual Themes
None directly, other than basic values of "be kind to each other." One character briefly pretends to have accepted Christ as his savior, but only to fool someone and mock that person. Christianity, however, is not painted in a bad light as a result of the action; the mean person is.
CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers)
- MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and suggestive humor, some nudity, action violence and language (including brief strong language)
- Language/Profanity: One F-word. The S-word is used regularly throughout the film. The A-word is also used quite frequently (along with more crass variations of that word), as is the sexual slang D-word derived from Bob Stone’s real last name. The B-word is used five times. The P-word sexual slang is used once. The Lord’s name is taken in vain three times. A character uses the middle finger once.
- Sexuality/Nudity: A few different instances of full rear nudity, all involving the public shaming of an obese male high school student. Full nudity of a man is suggested in another scene, but he’s only seen from the waist up. Two brief images of mimicked sexual activity (no nudity). The T-word for breasts is used a couple of times. A reference to PornHub is made, but it is not seen or described. A couple of other suggestive porn references are made. Guys make brief crass references to sleeping around. The term “jerk” is used in reference to masturbation a couple of times. A man uses a rope briefly to make a sexual gesture.
- Violence/Frightening/Intense: A lot of gun-related violence occurs throughout, including people being shot. It’s often intense but not too bloody. A lot of extreme physical violence and fighting, with the cracking of bones. A body explodes; entrails are seen on glass. A visual of a finger that’s been severely broken and out of shape.
Drugs/Alcohol: A few scenes of casual drinking; no drunkenness. Beers are consumed, as are whiskey shots.
The Bottom Line
RECOMMENDED FOR: Diehard Kevin Hart fans and Dwayne Johnson fans, but mostly just Hart fans.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Families, or people who are bothered by excessive, gratuitous content. It’s a very strong PG-13, and will likely bother (even occasionally shock) parents who bring their kids expecting a fun time for the whole family, ala other Johnson fare like The Tooth Fairy or Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.
Central Intelligence, directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, opened in theaters June 17, 2016; available for home viewing September 27, 2016. It runs 114 minutes, and stars Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Danielle Nicolet, Amy Ryan, and Aaron Paul. Watch the trailer for Central Intelligence here.
Jeff Huston is a writer/director/editor for Steelehouse Productions, a film & video production company in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He also publishes a movie blog that can be found at hustonmovieblog.com, and is a member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle. In 2015, his short film Pink Shorts was a finalist in HBO's Project Greenlight competition, and was one of six winners in that show's online "Greenie Awards."
Publication date: June 16, 2016