If you’ve seen the trailer for Central Intelligence, you would be forgiven for thinking the film was going to be funny. It isn’t.
At High School, Kevin Hart’s Calvin Joyner was captain of just about every conceivable team and club and was voted most likely to succeed, while Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s Robbie Wierdick was an obese outcast bullied by Jason Bateman.
Flash forward twenty years, to the eve of their high school reunion and Joyner is stuck in a dead-end middle management accountancy job and The Rock is a C.I.A agent who looks like The Rock. “I simply worked out six hours a day for twenty years,” he explains. He may or may not be the bad guy in a conspiracy to sell satellite codes on the black market and he drags his old school friend into the scenario.
The story came straight from plotting for beginners, must have taken all of seconds to come up with and never deviates off its predictable course. It could be any number of the recent espionage/comedy mash-ups where a bumbling average Joe gets caught in events that are way over his head (most obviously Get Smart). Now, a slight plot isn’t necessarily fatal for a comedy, if it’s side-splittingly funny; but unfortunately 90% of the good gags in Central Intelligence were in the aforementioned trailer.
It doesn’t seem to know what sort of comedy it wants to be. Mixing comedy styles can work, The Nice Guys recently mixed rapid fire banter with slapstick to good effect, but everything fit into the overall tone and style of the film. Not so here. Most of the humour is so juvenile I can’t believe that anyone older than ten would find it funny, so with a bit of polish and some subtle humour for adults it could have been a serviceable family comedy, but it’s also laced with swearing and crude adult humour; creating a mix that’s too explicit for children and too childish for anyone who has left primary school. It is possible to create a good juvenile comedy for adults, by the way, just not like this. It requires more….intelligence.
Frustratingly, the out-takes which play over the end credits are genuinely funny, and show that Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart have the charisma and the chemistry to be a successful comedy double-act. Perhaps they should have been left free to ad-lib their way through proceedings rather than rely on the weak script.
The Verdict: Tonally jarring, thinly plotted and mostly unfunny. Johnson and Hart bust their candy-asses trying to make this work but don’t quite pull it off.