Central Intelligence

Posted on June 16, 2016 at 5:22 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for crude and suggestive humor, some nudity, action violence and brief strong language
Profanity: Some strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking, scenes in bar
Violence/ Scariness: Extended action-style violence, characters injured and killed, some disturbing images and sounds and torture
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: June 17, 2016
Date Released to DVD: September 26, 2016
Amazon.com ASIN: B01H4FJQ2G
Copyright 2016 Warner Brothers
Copyright 2016 Warner Brothers

There’s not much intelligence of any kind, central or otherwise, in this silly spy comedy, but what did you expect from a movie based on the sight gag of pairing man mountain former WWE star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson with pocket-sized pepperpot comic Kevin Hart? But its good-natured script by Ike Barinholtz, David Stassen, and director Rawson Marshall Thurber and the pleasure of watching the appealing stars enjoying themselves make it work.

Hart, something of a straight man for a change, plays Calvin, a one-time high school all-star voted Most Likely to Succeed, now an accountant working in a building with a huge inflated gorilla in front of it, and just passed over for promotion. He adores his wife, Maggie (“The Game’s” Danielle Nicolet), but is disappointed in himself.  His wife wants him to go to couples therapy, but he is reluctant. “Black people don’t go to therapy.  We go to the barbershop.  Or we watch the movie ‘Barbershop.'”

Just before the 10th high school reunion he has refused to attend, he hears via Facebook from a classmate now known as Bob Stone (Johnson), who lists his “likes” as unicorns, cinnamon pancakes, and guns. In high school he was known as Robby. He was very overweight and awkward. Bullies grabbed him in the locker room shower and threw into the gym naked in front of the whole class. Calvin was the only one who was kind to him, handing him his letter jacket to cover up.

Now Bob is handsome and muscular, but not intimidating because he is wearing a unicorn t-shirt, a front-facing fannypack, and jorts.  It seems all he wants from Calvin is a chance to thank him.

But then he punches out some bullies in the bar.  He’s really good at it. And then he asks Calvin to help him with a “forensic accounting problem.”  He asks to spend the night on Calvin’s fold-out couch (Maggie does not seem to be around). It’s a little weird, but then it gets scary. The next morning the CIA shows up because, according to Agent Pamela Harris (Amy Ryan, playing it very straight), Bob Stone is a traitor and a threat to national security who is about to deliver some very dangerous computer codes to the highest bidder.

All of this is just to set up a zany series of chases, shoot-outs, captures, and escapes, with a terrified Calvin trying to figure out who is telling the truth and stopping in the middle for many, many pop culture references, a marriage counseling session, and a visit to the ringleader of the guys who bullied Bob in high school (Jason Bateman).

The good spirits and anti-bullying message are sullied by some uncomfortably unkind “humor,” especially concerning a surprise cameo appearance that consists only of her being swept away by Johnson’s body and having crossed eyes.  I’m pretty sure that punching a bully is not the message of empowerment that we should be getting here.  But they’re no more serious about the message than they are about the storyline.  This movie is about hanging out with Johnson and Hart as they goof on their own personas, and that is silly fun.

Parents should know that the film includes some comic nudity (bare tushes), potty humor, strong language, and extended action-style violence with torture and some disturbing sounds and images. Characters are injured and killed.

Family discussion: What is the best way to prevent bullying? Why didn’t Calvin achieve what he thought he would?

If you like this, try: “Spy” and the original “The In-Laws”

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