Combustible Celluloid
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With: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet, Aaron Paul, Ryan Hansen, Tim Griffin, Timothy John Smith, Thomas Kretschmann, Megan Park, Slaine, Jason Bateman
Written by: Ike Barinholtz, David Stassen, Rawson Marshall Thurber, based on a story by Ike Barinholtz, David Stassen
Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and suggestive humor, some nudity, action violence and brief strong language
Running Time: 107
Date: 09/30/2016

Central Intelligence (2016)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Bro Beatings

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Diminutive Kevin Hart seems to work best in movies when paired with a polar opposite, like the sneering street thug Ice Cube, or the very large but childlike Will Ferrell. In the mildly entertaining Central Intelligence, he's paired with brawny former pro wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. It works, but the hitch this time is that Johnson has stretched a little further than usual with his comic chops and has created a hilarious character.

In high school, he was "Fat Robbie" to Hart's big-man-on-campus Calvin "The Golden Jet" Joyner. Now he's a CIA agent who wears a fanny pack and loves unicorns, and speaks cool-guy euphemisms with a teeny bit of discomfort (he's not quite used to them). His creation, now called Bob Stone, is wonderful. Hart doesn't quite match him, however, and more or less plays his usual shtick, pretending to be street-smart but mostly playing frightened; the pair don't quite reach the same comic pitch.

Moreover, Rawson Marshall Thurber directs the crime story more or less straight, with Amy Ryan and Aaron Paul never cracking from their roles, and with the action dragging on too long (and even longer in the 116-minute unrated version). Jason Bateman plays another one of his mean characters, and Danielle Nicolet plays Hart's high school sweetheart with very little do to.

Warner Home Video released a high-quality Blu-ray with tons of extras. It appears that there are different versions of the extras for each version of the film, but I can't confirm this. We have "unrated" versions of a gag reel, alternate scenes, Line-O-Rama, and a commentary track by Rawson Marshall Thurber and editor Michael L. Sale, and then "rated" versions of all these things. There are also short featurettes called "Dance Off" and "Couch Time Lapse." Suffice to say that Hart and Johnson's clowning during filming is pretty funny, and often funnier than the film.

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