Central Intelligence Plot Summary:
After being bullied in high school, Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson) reunites with the only person who was nice to him – big man on campus, Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart). Calvin’s mundane life turns upside down when Bob turns out to be a CIA agent on the run.
The best way to describe my experience watching Central Intelligence is to imagine you’re a kid at an ice cream store, and some jack ass runs in and knocks all the ice cream over, leaving nothing left for you to eat. Sad and painful. This certainly isn’t the worst comedy I’ve ever seen, but its problems are so commonplace. I feel like a broken record. I just saw this with Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. At least that film knew what genre it was – mockumentary. This movie is such a convoluted mess. Not only do we get a bad comedy, but a terrible bully drama and spy movie, all rolled into one predictable, generic unappealing dish that looks like it was worked on by nine different chefs. This movie has no clue what it wants to be, and we all suffer because of it.
Before we get into the characters, let me set up how lazy this comedy is. I even shudder to use that word – comedy. The first scene is fat dancing Dwayne Johnson. We knew it was coming. It sucks. We’re moving on. It’s the next scene that really pissed me off. We go to Kevin Hart’s office where Ryan Hansen plays his co-worker who acts like the most clichéd frat boy in the history of movies. His jokes consist of “look at the dick app I just created,” and even uses the word “promosh” to describe another co-worker getting promoted. At one point he even chants about boobs when he thinks a stripper walks into the office. This is why I get really bent out of shape when people accuse me of being nostalgic for the old comedy days when they trot out this tired old douche of a character. Cut me a break.
Kevin Hart plays Kevin Hart. What else do you want me to say? He can be funny, but the script is so obviously written for him that there’s no character whatsoever. He was a high school star. Now he’s a boring accountant. He wails and yells while bullets fly everywhere. The end. While Hart was forgettable, I have to give credit to Dwayne Johnson who never ceases to amaze me. He’s a good actor. He’s given atrocious material here, including a plethora of 90’s phrases (“What! “What!”), but still manages to be charming and charismatic. For what it’s worth the two have good chemistry. If there was an actual script written, they could do something funny.
In addition to the generic characters, the jokes are so bad that they even explain themselves. We get the typical jerk at the bar who uses the word “bro” a lot. Yup. The movie thinks it’s clever when Kevin Hart actually makes a joke about how many times he says “bro.” That’s not clever. That’s admitting you have nothing original to offer. Even when they hit on something mildly amusing, the writers crap all over it. Kevin Hart’s wife in the movie, played by Danielle Nicolet, who isn’t bad, makes a clever Goodfellas reference. Okay. That was good. But then they have to ruin it by having Kevin Hart literally explain that it was a good reference. Wow. I need to watch Seinfeld to cleanse myself of the awful comedy.
Aside from the uninspired humor, this movie goes to another level of pissing me off when it actually tries to guilt me into liking it. One of the big themes is bullying. There’s a moment where Dwayne Johnson’s character encounters his former bully, and it’s very sad and melodramatic. It’s almost as if the movie knows it sucks, so they design a scene to make critics feel like crap for giving it a negative review. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 tried to do the same thing with the kid at the end. How dare you. I’m not saying anti-bullying isn’t important. It obviously is. But that doesn’t mean I have to suffer through a subpar movie so we can get to the hackneyed anti-bullying PSA. If this was a stronger film, maybe I’d appreciate it more. It goes to show how lost this movie is. It can’t decide on a genre.
As if it weren’t bad enough the movie refuses to end. It goes through a gauntlet of sloppy twists and turns, and barrages you with a hundred wrap-ups that you predict five minutes into the film. It’s excruciating. There were a few good surprise cameos, but nothing to write home about. There’s one actor in particular who completely and utterly humiliates himself. Let’s just say he’s from a very popular show that recently ended and says a line of dialogue that literally made me cringe. I like this actor, but he should know better. Shameful.
I’m at the point now where I’m beginning to ask existential questions about myself when it comes to comedy. Am I the problem? Why does this movie and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping have fresh ratings? Am I truly living in the past? Did I lose my sense of humor some time ago? No.Screw that! These movies stink. Oh, Sausage Fest. Please save me.
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Really Bad)
Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.