CENTRAL INTELLEGENCE –Review by Susan Granger

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If you’re really desperate for yet another odd-couple caper, consider this fast-paced froth that’s almost immediately forgettable. Mild-mannered Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) is a disgruntled accountant who married his teenage sweetheart Maggie (Danielle Nicolet) yet yearns for the glory days when he was Senior Class President and the town’s most popular jock.

As his 20th high school anniversary looms, Calvin re-connects with Robbie Weirdicht (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), a shy, sensitive soul who’s “super into unicorns” and remains grateful to Calvin for a singular act of kindness when he was the once-obese victim of cruel shower-room bullies – which is shown in flashback with lots of inventive CGI.

When now-grown Calvin and Robbie – now known as Bob Stone – meet for a drink, they bond again. But then a CIA bigwig (Amy Ryan) shows up at Calvin’s house, informing him that Bob is actually a former undercover agent gone rogue after killing his partner.

So – is Bob the good guy that Calvin remembers? Or has he gone to the dark side?

Soon, hapless Calvin joins fanny-pack-wearing Bob on-the-run from law enforcement and a complex, high-stakes conspiracy involving the Black Badger that only he can help unravel.

Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (“We’re the Millers,” “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story”) from a script he co-wrote with Ike Barinholtz and David Stassen (“The Mindy Project”), it capitalizes on the chemistry between Hart and Johnson, who display a genuine camaraderie, plus cameos from Jason Bateman, Aaron Paul and others.

While the “role reversal” concept works, the espionage plot is sloppy, the weakest link in the comedic chain of events. And – after the horrific massacre in Orlando Florida – the violent scene in which Calvin’s office is splayed with bullets as onlookers duck for cover seems particularly disturbing.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Central Intelligence” is a sweet, high-spirited 6, revolving around mid-life male anxiety and concluding with an extended epilogue and blooper reel.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.