Richard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliot talk about the weekend’s four big releases, including “Finding Dory,” the buddy comedy “Central Intelligence” with Duane Johnson and Kevin Hart, and a duo of documentaries, “De Palma,” an unflinching look at the films of Brian De Palma and the self explanatory “Raiders! The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made.”
The key to “Central Intelligence,” a new action comedy comedy from “Easy A” director Rawson Marshall Thurber, will be the rapport between stars Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart. Physically they’re Laurel and Hardy, Johnson is at least one foot taller than Hart and weighs a hundred pounds more, but physicality aside, do they have the chemistry to pull this off?
Today Bob Stone (Johnson) is a CIA assassin who bears an uncanny resemblance to wrestler The Rock. He’s a mountain of a man but that wasn’t always the case. In 1996 he was a ninety-pound weakling so teased by his classmates even his principal says, “Well, there’s no coming back from that,” after one particularly humiliating hazing stunt.
On the other end of the high school scale is Calvin Joyner (Hart). Popular, he was homecoming king and voted most likely to succeed. He is, as the principal says, “Everybody’s favourite all round guy.” The future buttoned-down accountant was also the only kid in school to treat Bob with any humanity.
When Bob reconnects with Calvin on Facebook Calvin has a hard time remembering his former classmate. “You lost like two hundred pounds,” he says when they meet in person. Bob is now a CIA agent, but there’s a problem. The agency thinks he has gone rogue and is now a terrorist trying to hawk classified military secrets. To help clear his name Bob enlists Calvin. “Bottom line,” he says, “are you in or are you out?” Calvin wants out. “I thought you’d go, ‘I’m in Bob!’” says Stone, “and we would have a really cool moment but you kind of ruined that.” Of course Calvin is in, otherwise there’d be no action in this comedy.
The good news is Johnson and Hart have chemistry. They click. The bad news is the script doesn’t give them much to work with. There is the occasional funny moment but frankly, “Central Intelligence” rarely garners more than a titter from an audience who want to laugh, who want desperately for Hart to let loose or Johnson to display the kind of comedy chops he’s showed on “Saturday Night Live” and the kind of action aptitude he’s shown, well, everywhere else. Instead we’re handed a tepid action movie with badly choreographed fight scenes, few laughs and anti-bullying pop psychology better suited to an afterschool special.
What could have been a vehicle that played up to its star’s strengths is little more than a generic action flick that fails to let us smell what the Rock has cooking.
The Spider-Man movies don’t skimp on the stuff that puts the “super” into superhero movies. There’s web-slinging shenanigans and wild bad guys galore, but The Amazing Spider-Man 2 director Marc Webb calls the relationship between Spidey and girlfriend Gwen Stacy, “the engine of the movie.”
The chemistry the real-life couple brings to the screen is undeniable, but it almost didn’t get a chance to blossom. Before Emma Stone landed the role of the brainiac love interest, Mia Wasikowska, Imogen Poots, Emma Roberts and even Lindsay Lohan were considered.
Stone won some of the best reviews of her career playing Gwen in The Amazing Spider-Man — Peter Travers said she, “just jumps to life on screen” — in a role that gave her the biggest hit of her career to date.
Smaller roles in Superbad and Zombieland hinted at her ability to be funny and hold the screen, but in 2010’s Easy A she turned a corner into full-on Lucille Ball mode, mixing pratfalls with wit while pulling faces and cracking jokes. Smart and funny, she’s the film’s centrepiece.
The movie begins with the voice over, “The rumours of my promiscuity have been greatly exaggerated.” It’s the voice of Olive (Stone), a clean-cut high school senior who tells a little white lie about losing her virginity. As soon as the gossip mill gets a hold of the info, however, her life takes a parallel course to the heroine of the book she is studying in English class — The Scarlet Letter.
Stone is laugh-out-loud funny in Easy A, but her breakout film was a serious drama.
In The Help, she plays Jackson, Miss. native “Skeeter” Phelan who comes home from four years at school to discover the woman who raised her, a maid named Constantine (Cicely Tyson), is no longer employed by her family. Her mother says she quit, but Skeeter has doubts. With the help of a courageous group of housekeepers she tells the real story of the life of the maids, writing a book called The Help.
The Flick Filosopher called her performance, “on fire with indignation and rage,” and she moved from The Help to a variety of roles, including playing a femme fatale in Gangster Squad opposite Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin, and lending her trademark raspy voice to cave girl Eep in the animated hit The Croods.
The 25-year-old actress is living her childhood dream of being an actress but says if performing hadn’t worked out, she would have been a journalist, “because (investigating people’s lives is) pretty much what an actor does.
“And imagine getting to interview people like me,” she laughs. ‘’It can’t get much better than that.”
At one point in “Easy A” Olive (Emma Stone) says “John Hughes did not direct my life.” True enough, but he could have directed this movie. The story of a girl who takes the saying “let’s not and say we did” to a whole new level has echoes of Hughes and is the best high school comedy to come along since “Mean Girls” and “Superbad.”
The movie begins with the voiceover, “The rumours of my promiscuity have been greatly exaggerated.” It’s the voice of Olive (Stone), a clean cut high school senior who tells a little white lie about losing her virginity. As soon as the gossip mill gets a hold of the info, however, her life takes a parallel course to the heroine of the book she is studying in English class—The Scarlet Letter. At first she embraces her newfound notoriety; after all she had been all but invisible at the beginning of the school year. “Google Earth couldn’t find me even if I was dressed as a ten story building,” she says. It isn’t until the lies and gossip start to spin out of control that she has to assert her virginity.
“Easy A” is funny. Laugh out loud until your face hurts funny. Even the product placement—Quiznos—is funny. It’s filled with great one liners—“I fake rocked your world!”—and the best non-sex, sex scene ever but as good as the script is, it is enhanced by terrific comedic performances that elevate the movie from clever teen romp to something special.
Leading the cast is Emma Stone, the typical movie not-so-plain, plain girl, as the spunky Olive. Her past work in “Superbad” and “Zombieland” hinted at her ability to be funny and hold the screen, but here she turns a corner into full on Lucille Ball mode, mixing pratfalls with wit while pulling faces and cracking jokes. Smart and funny, she’s the film’s centerpiece and this should be her breakout movie.
Supporting her, as her parents, are Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson. Tucci, who recently creeped out everyone who paid twelve bucks to see “The Lovely Bones” unleashes his silly side here, proving, once again, that he is one of our most versatile actors. Clarkson, as his freewheeling wife (and Olive’s mom) brings bucket loads of charm and comic timing. When they are together sparks fly.
Uniformly strong are Amanda Bynes, in what was supposed to be her last role before her retirement from acting, and Dan Byrd (from The Hills Have Eyes) as Brandon, a gay teen who turns to Olive for help. His plaintive plea for her to help put an end to the teasing he takes at school is heartfelt and touching and real.
“Easy A” is the most fun I’ve had in the theatre in a long time.