Kevin Hart has made some great movies. Unfortunately, all of those were stand-up comedy specials. As for his movies where there is actually supposed to be plot and character development, he hasn’t quite figured that out yet. He played the supporting character well in movies like Think Like a Man and About Last Night, but movies like Get Hard and those God awful Ride Along movies have hardly established America’s top comedian as a home run leading man. Finding effective chemistry with his co-star has been one glaring issue, and luckily for him, he has the charismatic Dwayne Johnson to help him out with his latest film.
Central Intelligence stars Hart as a former high school golden boy turned middle aged accountant. Despite marrying his high school sweetheart (Danielle Nicolet), Hart feels like an underachiever stuck at a dead end job. That is until he is contacted by former classmate Robbie Weirdicht. Now a fugitive CIA agent going by the name Bob Stone (Johnson), “Fat Robby” has transformed from tormented, overweight geek into… well… The Rock. And after reuniting over drinks, Hart’s Calvin Joyner gets roped into Stone’s mission to clear his name with the CIA and foil a secret terrorist transaction.
The most important thing in a comedy is to be funny. The biggest reason Hart’s movies have mostly fallen flat is because they simply aren’t funny enough outside of the brief moments in their respective trailers. From Calvin’s first interaction with his annoying coworkers, it’s clear that this movie has a much better set of writers than any of Hart’s other films. The jokes come relentlessly and for the first time in a Kevin Hart led movie, I found myself crying laughing more than once.
Much of the comedy is due in large part to the chemistry between Hart and Johnson. Atrocious chemistry between Hart and Ice Cube weighs down the Ride Along movies, but here it seems like a match made in comedic heaven. The Rock’s dinky, tough guy routine plays well with Hart’s manic everyman and the two are able to provide a perfect comedic balance to drive the story through its more ludicrous and hokey moments.
The plot isn’t too shabby either. Aside from fleshing out the two main characters, Central Intelligence also delivers enough twists and turns to its action film elements to keep you from being bored. Throw in some unadvertised, but welcomed cameos and Central Intelligence feels like the comedy we’ve been waiting for from Kevin Hart. It seems all he really needed was a worthy co-star.
FINAL GRADE: B+