Central Intelligence

Directed By: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Amy Ryan, Aaron Paul, Danielle Nicolet, Jason Bateman, and Melissa McCarthy

I think it's crystal clear from years of reviews that I'm tired of the same old shtick from Kevin Hart and that I'm looking for something new from his rather high energy brand of comedy.  Ride Along 2.  Get Hard.  Think Like A Man Too.  Grudge Match.  The list goes on and on and on when it comes to Kevin Hart movies that don't quite do it for me.  That's why I came into this weekend's Central Intelligence with such low expectations.  I underestimated what it meant that the People's Champion was joining Hart on camera.  Now, for the first time in a long time, there might just be a Kevin Hart comedy vehicle I like.  It may be a stupid comedy, but it works for whatever reason.

It's 1996.  Calvin "Golden Jet" Joyner (Kevin Hart) is the hero of his own story.  A graduating senior, he has been voted most likely to succeed by his classmates and has conquered just about every academic and athletic arena possible.  Fast forward to the present some twenty years later.  While he married his high school sweetheart Maggie (Danielle Nicolet) and has built a life with her, Calvin's not-so-thriving career as a junior associate at an accounting firm doesn't leave him feeling very successful, especially with his 20-year reunion on the horizon.  Back in high school, he had a classmate named Robbie Wierdich (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson).  Overweight and friendless, Robbie is pranked by his fellow classmates in the most shameful of ways.  The only one who helps him on that day is Calvin.  Some twenty years later, he's taken all that weight off and has become a CIA agent under the name Bob Stone.  For a case he's investigating, Robbie needs Calvin's accounting skills in pursuit of a criminal known as the Black Badger.  With a simple Facebook friend request, one wild ride begins for the pair leading up to their high school reunion.

It's nonsensical at times.  It's formulaic at others.  Regardless, Central Intelligence is entertaining as hell at all times.  With loads of laughs, this spy comedy is just the right counter programming to Disney's latest box office juggernaut Finding Dory.  Kevin Hart and The Rock really have some terrific comedic chemistry that carries this film to some really great territory.  With The Rock as the silly guy playing up bullying issues from his tortured past who just happens to be a badass CIA agent, he's undeniably awesome.  Offering anything but the typical smack-talking persona we usually get, Johnson is the guy looking for his Molly Ringwald moment who loves En Vogue's "Never Gonna Get It" and John Hughes's Sixteen Candles.  A civilian who has a glamorous past in high school but has sloped downward ever since, Hart assumes the usual position as the pint-sized trash talker in chief.  Together, they really gel well, and their chemistry pays big dividends throughout Central Intelligence.

While Hart and Johnson are the center of the film, there is a well-rounded supporting cast providing plenty of humor as well.  Straight-faced CIA agent Pamela Harris, actress Amy Ryan provides plenty of dry humor that resonates well.  For his part as Bob Stone's former partner Phil, Aaron Paul is in a good place.  The Breaking Bad star even gets to throw in a hint of his signature tagline.  Finally, we have a host of cameos from high profile comedic stars including Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy.  They bring plenty of laughs in their brief moments on camera as well.

Central Intelligence
gets a strong 0.06% rating.  Surprisingly entertaining from start to finish, have a few rounds of beer with this one.