Review: Central Intelligence, C
Rated PG-13, 110 minutes
The lightweight, overlong and overly silly new buddy comedy "Central Intelligence" has a title so ironic, given how dumb it is. The charming leads, particularly The Rock, are game as ever and should help propel it to some decent box-office receipts. Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson), a one-time bullied overweight geek who grew up to be a lethal CIA agent, comes home for his high school reunion. Claiming to be on a top-secret case, he enlists the help of the former "big man on campus" Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart), now an accountant who misses his glory days. The two enter a world of shoot-outs, double-crosses, and espionage that could get them both killed. Directed and co-written by Dawson Marshall Thurber, the man behind such comedies as "Dodgeball: A True Underdog" and "We're the Millers," directs with such a broad, silly flair that any sort of subtly or sharpness is thrown out of the window in the first 5 minutes. It's part reunion comedy, part thriller, and uneven mix that never finds its footing or any real believability: if Bob is such a smart CIA agent, why involve innocent civilians like Calvin in the first place, except only for a reunion? Seeing the roles reversed as the men grow older is actually good at first with Hart taking on the straight role, though that doesn't last long until he starts screaming in broad comedic mode that we're used to seeing. In addition, we don't see much of how Bob transition from overweight teen to slick CIA agent, only that "he worked out for 6 hours, every day for 20 years." Hart and Johnson are game, likable leads in Laurel-and-Hardy mode but it's a casting trick that probably looked much more clever on paper than in actual execution; Hart worked with a tall guy before - Will Ferrell - last year (in "Get Hard") to mixed results, and this effort is slightly better (and much less profane) though that isn't saying much, given that Hart is still an acquired taste for more than a few minutes. They're ably supported by Amy Ryan, Aaron Paul, and in an unbilled but memorable cameo, Jason Bateman as a douche bag classmate who hasn't changed much at all. Through some twists and turns, it goes on too long, with some sequences (including one in a therapist's office) that are unnecessary and unfunny, until the simplistic, bullets and bad-guy-reveal finale. In its first act, Hart's character keeps screaming - and we hear him loud and clear - "I'm out, I don't want to be in!" referring to his dangerous situation. I feel the same way about the charming but forgettable "Central Intelligence:" we don't really want to be there, but you're gonna be dragged along anyway.