Monday, June 20, 2016

Central Intelligence [2016]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III)  ChicagoTribune (2 Stars) (3 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C-)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2  Stars)

IMDb listng (S. Ofole-Prince) review (E. Bartlová) review*
Fanboy Nation (S. Mulvihill) review
Fat Guys at the Movies (K. Carr) review

CNS/USCCB (J. McAleer) review
ChicagoTribune (C. Covert) review (M. Zoller-Seitz) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review  

Central Intelligence [2016] (directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, screenplay by Ike Barinholtz, Rawson Marshall Thurber and David Stassen story by Ike Barinholtz and David Stassen) is a fun if often _silly movie_ about ... oh, _so many things_ ... and honestly so many things _that matter_ (like "growing up," surviving bullying, _friendship_, coming to terms with who one is / has become) that despite appalling many of the "Citizen Kane [1941] or bust" school of film critics, will probably end up being one of my favorite movies of the year, and probably for years to come (Folks, I loved Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 [2015] last year as well ;-).

The film is about two guys first approaching their high school graduation, and then 20 years later approaching their 20th high school reunion.

The first is Calvin Joyner (played magnificently by Kevin Hart) who was graduating as the Star [TM] of his high school class -- Valedictorian, Varsity letterman in four, yes FOUR, sports (football, cross country, basketball and baseball (those who would not know, the traditional seasons in the U.S. for FOOTBALL and CROSS COUNTRY occur AT THE SAME TIME ;-), Star of Hamlet (!) in the school play Senior Year (again the play would have run during basketball season ;-), crowned Prom King (his girlfriend Maggie (played again wonderfully by Danielle Nicolet) crowned Prom Queen with him), voted hands-down / no-surprise "Most Likely to Succeed."

Twenty years later ... he's working at a random suburban accounting firm, just passed-up, again, for (even a sucky) promotion that he should have gotten years ago, by someone who's, well, ten years younger than him.   Yes, he's married to Maggie his high school sweetheart.  She's since made Partner at her law firm.  They have no kids, but one guesses that it's been mostly Calvin who's kept the breaks on that (Maggie would have been _happy as pie_ to have had kids by now).  But it's Calvin who's depressed now, indeed depressed _for years_ thinking _sincerely_ that his best years were LONG, LONG PASSED ... and NOW ... is coming that 20th High School Reunion ...

Feeling sorry for himself as the rest of the office is celebrating with the guy who got the promotion that he should have gotten ten years ago ... he gets a random "friend request" on Facebook from a Bob Stone who claims he knows him.  Who the heck is Bob Stone?  Again, feeling sorry for himself / not thinking clearly, he accepts the request and IMMEDIATELY gets a WILDLY INAPPROPRIATE (if sophomoric / still PG-13 level) video sent to him by his new FB buddy Bob Stone.   Of course he hits something and the video starts screaming across the office.  People start rushing toward his cubicle to see what it is.  "Hey man, that's so unprofessional for the office ..." one or another says.

Anyway, back to Bob Stone.  Turns out that he's in town for _the reunion_ and would really like to meet him for a couple of beers beforehand.  Again, Calvin is at a loss / dead-end in his life, accepts (even though it breaks a "marriage counseling appointment," that he's promised Maggie that he'd attend ... yes, even his marriage is now on the rocks...).

Calvin meets Bob Stone at some random agreed-upon bar, and ... Bob Stone (played again absolutely magnificently by Dwayne Johnson), who Calvin does not even initially recognize, turns out to be Robby Wierdich who had been a large, shy, overweight oaf (with a _terribly/tragically "evocative name"_) in high school, relentlessly picked-on by many.  After high school, he seemed to _just disappear_ and nobody (to be honest, not even Calvin) thought much about him.  Yet here he was, 20-years-later, a truly inspired pile of contradictions -- with a bodybuilder's body, but wearing a "unicorn t-shirt", having worked apparently the last 15 years as an agent for the CIA.

HE looked-up Calvin in the days prior to the 20th High School Reunion because HE remembered Calvin as his BEST (and only ...) FRIEND in High School _and_ for an act of kindness that Calvin had done for him back then: When HE was exposed _naked_ as a result of some terrible prank at the last "High School Pep Rally" that they had attended, CALVIN had handed Robby Wierdich (now Agent Bob Stone) his 4-time Varsity Letterman Jacket to COVER HIMSELF.  It was for that gesture of (what HE took was) FRIENDSHIP that HE wanted to thank Calvin for.  And besides it was clear that Robby- turned-Bob STILL ABSOLUTELY WORSHIPED Calvin as "The Golden Jet" of High School yesteryear, "The coolest kid in the class and yet had time to like me ..." (did he? / had he? ;-)

And so there they were ... Calvin and Bob ... meeting in a bar twenty years later, Calvin feeling sorry for himself for having ended up "being a nothing" in life, and BOB seeing in Calvin SOMEONE WHO HAD ABSOLUTELY SAVED HIM twenty years before...

The rest of the movie ensues ... and honestly folks WHAT A GREAT STORY about how THE SMALLEST OF GESTURES OF KINDNESS and _really have an impact_ (positively) on the lives of others.

YES, THIS IS OFTEN A SILLY MOVIE (featuring two famously silly comedians), but WHAT A WONDERFUL STORY IT IS AS WELL :-)

Great job!

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