By Christian DiMartino
Well, it doesn’t blow.
Don’t lie: we all thought Central Intelligence was gonna blow. Then, by some magic, the reviews came out and they weren’t that bad. So I tried to catch it before I left for Mexico. I’m now caught up with it, and… I’m a bit iffy.
While it is certainly better than it looked, Central Intelligence manages to be a rare case in which it’s not as awful as you’d think, but yet it still somewhat underwhelms. It’s a mixed bag, to say the least, anchored by undeniably charming work from Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart. In another, funnier project, they could be quite a duo.
The first ten minutes are rough. We see Bobby (Johnson, through visual effects), fat, naked, and dancing to my jam, En Vogue’s “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It).” Then, he’s thrown into the middle of the gym, naked, in front of the student body. Calvin (Hart), the most popular person in school, shows him kindness during this tough time.
Flash forward ten years later, and Calvin is married to his high school sweethart (yes, sweethart. I actually spelled that on accident, but it works), but he’s acknowledged that he peaked in high school. Then one day, Bob reaches out to him. The two go to a bar, in which we see that Bob is now ripped. But in a funny touch, he’s still exactly the same way, sporting a My Little Pony shirt and going gaga over Sixteen Candles. Come on, don’t tell me you sat there with a straight face.
But then the next day, you realize that Bob has dragged Calvin into something huge. Turns out, he’s in the CIA, and is on the run. He’s apparently killed his partner (Aaron Paul, who’s role is just too obvious).
After that first ten minutes, you get the vibe that Central Intelligence might be onto something. But then the story kicks in, and you’re never really all that invested in it. It reminded me of Knight and Day at times, but I thought that one was more fun. The laughs are put off to the side in exchange for the action, with laughs showing up every so often.
But whatever jokes don’t quite work, don’t land with a thud, so that’s a relief. It’s not a film I necessarily found all that funny, but it goes down easy. I think we can thank Johnson and Hart for that. They make this an easy pill to swallow. But still, there’s better pills to swallow. Like Xanax.