Central Intelligence Parent Review
Perhaps the greatest disappointment is the amount of violence that obscures a potentially powerful lesson about self-confidence.
Dwayne Johnson is known for his philanthropic work with young people and that theme is a strong component in Central Intelligence. We meet Johnson’s character, Robbie Weirdicht, when he is an obese, bullied high school senior. (The character is a digital mashup of Johnson’s face and the body of Vine star Sione (Maraschino) Kelepi doing his moves.) Inexplicably, he’s enjoying a long shower and dancing up a storm in the locker room while the final assembly of the year is taking place. That’s when a small gang of kids find and drag him, literally butt naked (his rear is seen), into the center of the gym. The only classmate that comes to his rescue is Calvin (Kevin Hart), the coolest, can-do-anything guy in the school.
Fast forward twenty years and Calvin has married his high school sweetheart (Danielle Nicolet) and works as an accountant. He’s just been rejected for a promotion, which has left him feeling disenchanted with his life. His anxiety is even more heightened when the man who used to be Robbie contacts him through Facebook and convinces him they should meet.
Calvin quickly discovers that a different name (he now goes by Bob Stone) is not all that has change about his former acquaintance. He has also morphed into… well… Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Yet for all his newfound assurance, bulging muscles and ability to take down thugs (which he soon demonstrates), Stone still retains much of his former persona—evidenced by his black fanny pack, rainbow enhanced unicorn t-shirt and quirky personality. After a few drinks the towering, charismatic character talks Calvin into helping him sort out some financial issues… and that’s when the adventure begins. Before he knows what’s happening, Calvin finds himself in a violent situation and isn’t sure if he should be joining the tough guy and accepting his offer of protection, or assisting the CIA agents who are pursuing Stone.
Built to showcase the comedic talents of Hart and Johnson, the action plot is merely a framework that strings together a myriad of comedic setups. Most of these involve Kevin Hart screaming while The Rock calmly tells him what he needs to do. This pairing comes across much better than Hart’s partnership with Ice Cube in the Ride Along franchise, mainly because Johnson isn’t trying to be a serious secret agent. Still the fun fades after the first half-hour when we begin wanting more story to go with the snickers.
Perhaps the greatest disappointment is the amount of violence that obscures a potentially powerful lesson about self-confidence. Many confrontations involve guns, depictions of people being shot and confrontations that result in implied serious injuries. For the most part the action is sanitized, with the exception of a repeatedly seen moment where blood covers a window and a dismembered body part is brief shown. As well, salty language is peppered throughout the film, including a single sexual expletive, many scatological slangs and crude anatomical terms.
Coming back to Johnson’s personal concern for young people, Central Intelligence has an overt message about accepting the things you can’t change about yourself, while working to improve the things you can. When Calvin asks Bob about his dramatic makeover, Bob explains he simply spent the last twenty years working out for six hours a day. Oh, and he learned his defense moves at work. Although this response speaks to the time and effort involved in making improvements, the big guy’s tendency to succumb to using his brute force in a revengeful way and another naked public appearance (this time he is seen from the waist up) strips away much of what could have been positive in this message.
For the most part the movie focuses on laughs, and Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart appear to be having even more fun than the audience. If it had instead concentrated on how controlling one’s emotions requires more strength than resorting to physical outbursts, the script could have offered a much stronger punch.Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart . Running time: 108 minutes. Updated September 27, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Central Intelligence here.
Central Intelligence Parents Guide
This movie implies that our experiences as children and teens shape who we are as adults. What do you think of that premise? How much do you think your environment impacts your personality? What traits do you feel you were just born with?
Robbie, now Bob, has made many changes in his life. Do you think he’s made these alternations for the right reasons? He says he has committed to working out for six hours per day for the past 20 years. How realistic is this solution for others who may feel unhappy about themselves or the way they appear? What steps could a person take to improve their self-confidence? How important is one’s outward appearance?
Despite his physical changes, Bob has retained much of his earlier personality. Have you ever felt a need to alter who you are in an attempt to conform with the expectations of others? Is this a healthy thing to do? When is it appropriate to modify our behavior to “fit in” or meet the standards of certain situations? How might we judge others based on what they wear or how they act?