A buddy duddy

Central Intelligence, a comedy directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (DodgeBall, We’re the Millers), runs about 110 minutes but feels much longer. This utterly formulaic comedy sees Dwayne Johnson buddying up to Kevin Hart in a feeble action farce that vaguely echoes The In-Laws (1979).

They play one-time high-school classmates unexpectedly reunited on the eve of their 20th reunion. Johnson’s a CIA agent, and he quickly drags Hart – kicking and screaming all the way – into a hackneyed storyline that involves stolen satellite codes, international terrorism, and pursuing CIA agents who clearly need more time at the shooting range given their inability to hit anything they’re aiming at.

Hart’s trademark motor-mouthed panic is balanced, as it were, by Johnson’s trademark laid-back straight man. Affable as these two are, their big-screen track records aren’t exactly envious. The Ride Along films (Hart) and the Fast and Furious franchise (Johnson) have been profitable, but take a look – or don’t – at the recent credits of Hart (The Wedding Ringer, Get Hard) and Johnson (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Hercules, San Andreas). Try as they might, the air of desperation hangs heavy over Central Intelligence.

Amy Ryan has her biggest screen role in a long time as the FBI flack in pursuit. Too bad it’s a cardboard role. Aaron Paul is likewise wasted as Bob’s former partner, and although Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy bring a few chuckles in their cameo appearances, it’s all for naught. Central Intelligence is a summer bummer of the first, and worst, order. !