Saturday, April 29, 2017

Smart as a Rock

We saw a few reviews for Central Intelligence (2016), and figured, why not? Dwayne Johnson, we like. Kevin Hart, we don't really know, but looks funny. So we queued it up. So worth it.

It starts in high school. Hart is BMOC - star quarterback, valedictorian, beloved by all, known as the Golden Jet, boyfriend of beautiful Danielle Nicolet. Then there's this other kid, a fat kid who dances while he showers at school. A bunch of bullies grab him (after one guy comments on his dancing "he's pretty good!"), and toss him naked into the middle of a pep rally. Everyone laughs but Hart, who gives him his letter jacket to cover up.

Fast forward twenty years. Hart is now an accountant getting passed over for promotions. He is married to his high school girlfriend, but things are getting bumpy. At this point, I decided we were watching The Sin of Harold Diddlebock, but they went another way. He gets some goofy text messages, and it turns out to be that fat kid. So he goes to meet him for a drink, and the fat kid grew up to be The Rock.

So the high school hero has become a zero, and the fat nerd is now Mr. Universe. But the beauty part is, Johnson is still a nerd. He wears a unicorn tee-shirt ("Always Be You!") and a fanny pack with jorts. He talks like Jonah Hill - still thinks "Wassuuuup!" is cool. He is sincere and lovably dorky. Also, it turns out he is a spy, and he needs Hart's accounting expertise.

So there's a McGuffin, and the Agency thinks Johnson has gone rogue, but I doubt you care about that. You care about Johnson wreaking havoc while Hart screams, and you get it. It's a lot of fun - maybe not earth-shattering or even side-splitting, but fun.

Now a SPOILER and also Too Much Information: The final, triumphant scene takes place at the high school reunion. Hart dreaded it as the high school big shot who feels like he hit a dead end. Johnson feared it as a bullied former fat guy who can't shake the feelings of insecurity. But when Johnson gets crowned King of the Reunion, he triumphantly re-enacts his original humiliation, and strips naked on stage, now unashamed.

The TMI part: You know those dreams where you're naked in high school? Mine go like this - I'm in high school, it's finals week, I haven't studied, I don't even know where my classes are. The tension and fear ratchet up, and then I take all my clothes off, and everything just chills out. The teachers who were hassling me just laugh, the mood is now light and happy. I'm being open, guileless, defenseless. How can you get upset about a naked guy?

So, thank you, Mr. The Rock, for showing my point of view. Don't be ashamed, let your freak flag fly, and Always Be You. His goofy brand of power nerdiness keeps this from being just another action comedy - say Knight and Day with Hart as Cameron Diaz.

In conclusion, San Andreas or not?

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