A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Central Intelligence is an unoriginal but sometimes charming buddy action-comedy starring Kevin Hart and action star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. One main character is a CIA agent trying to foil an international plot, so you can expect a heavy helping of violence, including fights, shoot-outs, broken bones, a severed ear, people being thrown out windows, and more. There are also some cruel high school-set scenes: Bullies converge on a classmate and throw him naked into the center of a basketball court. Language includes "s--t," "a--hole," and more, plus one use of "f--k." Character kiss, jokes can get racy, some raunchy YouTube clips are shown on a computer screen, and one scene shows the bare backside of a character dancing in the shower.
What's the story?
In CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE, Calvin Joiner (Kevin Hart) isn't looking forward to his 20th high school reunion. Never mind that he was the most popular kid in school when he graduated, ruling student government, track, academics, and pretty much everything else. Now, at 38, he feels far from successful, stuck in an accounting job that he's good at but doesn't love and waiting to do something great. His wife, Maggie (Danielle Nicolet), thinks he's having a mid-life crisis and insists they see a therapist. Then comes a Facebook friend request from Bob Stone (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson), AKA Robert Weirdicht, who became notorious in high school as the butt of a really mean prank: When a bunch of guys threw him, naked, into the middle of the gym floor during an assembly, only Calvin helped him out. Now Bob -- a CIA agent who's never forgotten Calvin's kindness -- wants Calvin to go to the reunion, but not without a detour that has them chasing "bad guys" supposedly involved in a global conspiracy. Bob may no longer be the scared, overweight teen he once was, but is he really the good guy he says he is?
Is it any good?
By now, Hart's signature patter ought to have grown tiresome, but somehow that's not the case in this film. He talks so much in some scenes that, no matter how hard you resist, he wins you over by the time he utters his last sentence. And Johnson is so winning in his awkwardness, earnestness, and general big-heartedness that audiences will almost be able to forgive his lack of range.
That said, Central Intelligence has plenty of holes, and it drags many of the jokes out, ruining their momentum. But the chemistry between the two leads is unmistakable, elevating an otherwise predictable script. See it for Hart and Johnson, but be ready for a formulaic -- albeit sometimes funny -- ride.
Talk to your kids about ...
What roles do the women in this film play? Are they fully realized characters? Why or why not?
Talk about buddy comedies: What makes them work (or not)? Does Central Intelligence break new ground in the genre? Does it have to?
- In theaters: June 17, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: September 27, 2016
- Cast: Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Kevin Hart, Aaron Paul
- Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 114 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: crude and suggestive humor, some nudity, action violence and brief strong language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.