In the not so distant past, if a movie mashed up the socially loaded concepts of bullying, high school and high school reunions, dollars to doughnuts, you were on your way to watch a good old fashioned slasher film/horror movie.
In other words, no laughs allowed, save for the grim reaper.
Not to knock horror movies, but given the unbelievable chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, thank goodness this is not where director Rawson Marshall Thurber and writers Ike Barinholtz and David Stassen decided to take their action comedy “Central Intelligence.”
Much like the effortless shine of those popular kids from high school, the humor in “Central Intelligence” magically does a perfect balancing act – never trying too hard for laughs, but always managing to hit it’s mark without breaking a sweat.
The movie stars Johnson as Bob Stone, the unlikely subject of relentless bullying in highschool, and Hart as Calvin Joyner, the one popular kid who didn’t kick Stone when he was down. The manner in which both Hart and Johnson’s characters are cast against type makes for a brilliant piece of film making fueled immeasurably by the taut comedic tension between Johnson and Hart. Add to this that the main action of the movie centers on the eve of a high school reunion and the premise is a master stroke of a no lose proposition – even if Johnson and Hart were out of the picture (though we certainly are glad that they are there, because they truly make this summer comedy special).
Why such a masterfully creative move?
Because high school reunions have long been identified by most adults as a tension filled Bermuda triangle of shame, nostalgia and braggadocio.
For precisely this reason “Central Intelligence” is both hilarious and immensely entertaining to sit back and watch somebody else blunder through it.
Dwayne Johnson adds his usual je ne sais quoi charisma as the tough guy that we can actually feel sorry for at exactly the right moments.
Kevin Hart is at his neurotic best as the “normal” guy who is just trying to do the right thing by everyone and not get blown to bits in the process.
The result is a memorable and intensely funny movie that has everything going for it – sex appeal, action, humor and a great message with heart.
A definite go to summer movie with many great returns.
“Central Intelligence” starring Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet and Aaron Paul opens in theaters nationwide on June 17, 2016.