Monday, June 27, 2016

Central Intelligence

I kind of expected that last Saturday would start out as "see Warcraft and then stick around for the screening of Central Intelligence that starts soon after" and eventually become "saw Warcraft before Central Intelligence", just because one showed personality in the previews and the other didn't, but I wasn't quite prepared for how thoroughly Warcraft would exit my mind.

I am probably going to pay more attention to Kevin Hart going forward, because he's awfully funny in this and, though he's a big star, he's a guy that's probably not on my radar enough. I hope like heck it's because I'm pretty much oblivious to standup and not because I'm discounting movies with African-American leads. I try and fight that, especially now that it seems like we actually get more Chinese movies in the area than ones starring American people of color, which isn't exactly right.

Still, this one is funny enough to make me seek a guy out more in the future, and that's doing something pretty well.

Central Intelligence

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 18 June 2016 in AMC Boston Common #18 (first-run, DCP)

Movies like Central Intelligence are so routinely unimpressive - not terrible, mind you, but not great at either action or comedy, with the one tending to hold the other back - that seeing the formula actually work makes for such a pleasant surprise that it's hard to tell how to react. This one knows what it's doing, using the action to punctuate a big, highly entertaining odd couple comedy.

The odd couple are Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) and Rob Stone (Dwayne Johnson). Twenty years ago, they went to high school together but didn't have much contact until a group of bullies humiliated the tubby Rob (who had an embarrassing name to boot back then) and the incredibly popular Calvin showed him a modicum of kindness. Now, while Calvin wound up married to his successful and still-stunning high school sweetheart Maggie (Danielle Nicolet), he's an accountant who has seen assistants promoted over him, not really living up to "most likely to succeed". Rob, meanwhile, has become a perfect physical specimen and CIA field agent, even if he is still kind of a dork. In town for the high school reunion, he asks Calvin to take a look at some accounts, sucking the other man into spy stuff that is much more than he ever bargained for.

A lot of things go into making something like this work, but one thing that Central Intelligence does that a lot of comedies built around mismatches and fish out of water don't is to find strangeness everywhere - as much as Rob is obviously a complete goofball, the fawning over Calvin in the opening flashback and the antics in his office are kind of screwy in their own way. Aside from it being welcome awareness that people go to comedies to laugh and don't exactly want to wait until the set-up is finished for it, this lets director Rawson Marshall Thurber and his team drop Calvin into a word situation and not realize he's stuck there until well past the point of no return, getting the audience on board as well.

Full review on EFC.

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