Central Intelligence (2016)

Central Intelligence
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Writer: Ike BarinholtzDavid Stassen, Rawson Marshall Thurber
Cast: Dwayne JohnsonKevin HartAmy RyanDanielle NicoletJason BatemanAaron PaulRyan HansenThomas KretschmannKumail NanjianiMelissa McCarthy
Seen on: 23.6.2016

Plot:
When he was in high school, Calvin (Kevin Hart) was the star for everyone, but still with enough kindness in his heart to not bully the fat Bob (Dwayne Johnson) like everybody else did. But high school is long since over and Calvin may still have his smart and beautiful girlfriend Maggie (Danielle Nicolet) but otherwise he is stuck in a total rut and dreading the upcoming school reunion. That’s when he gets a call from Bob and decides, on a whim, to meet with him. On the surface Bob is much changed: he is still huge, but from muscles and there doesn’t seem to be the tiniest bit of fat on his body. He is still weird, though, and his obvious excitement to see Calvin again is flattering, but strange. And then things get worse: turns out, Bob works for the CIA and he’s in trouble – and Calvin is quickly more involved than he ever wanted to be.

I was very hesitant about wanting to see Central Intelligence. Its humor really didn’t seem up my alley. But then again I think Dwayne Johnson is funny as hell, so I had hopes that he would make the film work for me. And while the film is far from being my favorite, that is mostly what happened.

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Central Intelligence is a very silly film and its humor very immature. That much is obvious from the teaser poster already. So don’t expect there to be more to it. If you don’t and that sounds at least somewhat appealing to you, you’re going to have fun with the film, even if it is likely that not all jokes will work equally well for you. I for one had a hard time with Calvin’s racist story about Asian dicks that is only somewhat saved by Kumail Nanjiani listen to it stonefacedly and repeating how racist that story is. Lampshading is not the same as subversion.

That is not the only joke that doesn’t work for me – for example, there was a distinct element of fatshaming to the way Johnson’s CGI body (or body double, what do I know) was shown in the film. Much like with the racism, the film wants to have its cake and eat it, too. It seems, we’re supposed to both feel with Bob and see how hurtful the other boys are being, and laugh at his jiggling roles. I also wasn’t too happy about the way the few women there are in the film are treated. But there were actually funny moments as well and I honestly laughed more than I expected I would.

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And that’s not even all due to Dwayne Johnson, although a lot of it is – there is simply something to be said for 120kg of puppy enthusiasm, even if it comes in a weird package (both Johnson and the film do an excellent job to keep it unclear how much of that weirdness is personality and how much it is a cover so people won’t expect the sharp intelligence that becomes obvious in Bob every once in a while). Kevin Hart isn’t bad either, though he has the show repeatedly stolen from him. And there are some nice cameos.

It’s not a film that has to be seen, but I guess there are much worse films that you could see. I certainly won’t run to track down Thurber’s other films (well, I did see We’re the Millers and had a not unsimilar reaction to it), but I didn’t regret seeing this one.

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Summarizing: Could have been way worse.

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