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Kevin Hart finally begins to break away from his “Big Little Man” persona, and with The Rock playing a very peculiar person, who you can never pin down whose side he is on, you strangely get one of the most intriguing spy movies in a while.
Blood (gore) and Gun Violence
Characters Worth Noting
Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) | Bob Stone/ Robbie Weirdicht (Dwayne Johnson) | Agent Pamela Harris (Amy Ryan) | Maggie Joyner (Danielle Nicolet) | Phil (Aaron Paul) | Trevor (Jason Bateman/ Dylan Boyack)
Main Storyline (with Commentary)
In High School, Calvin was nearly an overall sports star. He was so popular he was class president, prom king, and the principal at the time proclaimed him his favorite student. On the flip side though there was Robbie. He was fat, would sing En Vogue in the shower, and one kid named Trevor decided, as Robbie took a private shower during an assembly, to throw him out in front of the school. You’ve seen the trailer, so you are familiar with this.
However, what makes this movie better than what critics seem to give it credit for is Robbie’s transition to Bob Stone, and Johnson showing, as Maya Angelou said: “The effects of cruel treatment die slowly.” For Bob, in many ways, seems to have arrested development. Yes, he is this big, beefy, brawny looking dude, yet it seems he is still a teenager. One which, from what we are told, doesn’t really have anyone but this one-time hero, Calvin, who saved him from an embarrassing moment. Yet, let me note, after that moment in the trailer they didn’t see each other for 20 years. However, despite that, there isn’t necessarily an obsession with Calvin, but that one act of kindness had put Bob in this mindset of putting Calvin on a pedestal, one Calvin doesn’t feel he deserve. Not because he is humble, but more so because he hates his life.
When you are voted most likely to succeed in high school, are a star, and then you get married to the prettiest girl, become an accountant, and then life becomes routine, it hurts your soul a bit. Something Maggie, Calvin’s wife, isn’t happy to hear, her husband feeling like some kind of failure. For it isn’t just him and his career troubles he focuses on, she believes. No, his unhappiness isn’t just because his former assistant is now ranked higher than him, but also his relationship isn’t what he wants.
Enter Bob Stone after 20 years. Bob needs an accountant, someone who knows how money can be moved from account to account. Not because he is a businessman, but because he is a CIA agent. Well, at least, according to Agent Harris, he at one time was. Problem is, currently it is believed he killed his partner Phil and, on top of that, now it is believed he is trying to sell military secrets. Which, due to Bob going from the usual Dwayne Johnson character who is ready to whoop ass, to this odd dude who likes fanny packs and unicorns, and has a serious case of arrested development, it is hard to say whether Agent Harris is trying to frame Bob, if Bob is as crazy as they say, or maybe he is faking this whole persona and using Calvin for all he can before dropping him. Which is why, despite appearances, this movie not only excels as a comedy but also as a spy movie.
While Kevin Hart doesn’t necessarily play a straight man, he does put away his “Little Big Man” persona and lets Dwayne Johnson be the funny guy. In many ways, that is what lets the film be great. Their chemistry isn’t like when Hart and Ice Cube are playing against one another in Ride Along. There isn’t one character, though arguably two, who are generic and uninteresting here. Calvin is fully fleshed out, as is Bob, and they are given fears, desires, goals, and in many ways are perhaps the most complex characters either actor has ever had.
To take it further, Calvin is having similar issues as Seth Rogen’s character did in the first Neighbors movie – in a way. He is an adult, he fully realizes this, but there is something about that transition which is nagging him. Yes, he has a beautiful wife, a steady job, and a house, but the person he once was, the dreams he had, he feels he hasn’t met them and attained them. So with his high school reunion coming around, he questions if he met expectations and whether the him of the past would be happy with the person he became.
Then, with Bob Stone, you see he physically transformed but with supposedly no family, and his only friend being his partner Paul in the CIA, he is stunted. He didn’t have any figure or friends to help him transition into adulthood so he stayed a child. One which seemingly, thanks to Trevor’s bullying, he can go from lion to lamb, as shown when he sees adult Trevor. On top of that, there is this complexity when Bob transitions from a person trying to suppress, if not escape, his past, to Agent Bob Stone. That man, Agent Bob Stone, is calculated, possibly a double agent, and the way the script is written you can never tell if maybe Bob is just fooling Calvin, is really this socially awkward guy all grown up, or perhaps a traitor to the nation. Which gives Johnson so much to work with and he surprisingly sells this complex character well.
This is the funniest movie I’ve seen in ages. Which is saying something since I have been watching at least 2-3 movies a week. So, needless to say, my tolerance for generic storylines, jokes, and more has become high. Yet, despite that, if you include bloopers, I nearly laughed 40 something times. That hasn’t happened in a long while and, as long-time readers may know, that number is likely on the low end since who really counts moments of chuckles?
On The Fence
A part of me was left wondering if Bob’s admiration was all platonic or maybe there was something beyond that? Granted, he notes having a crush on a girl named Dara (Melissa McCarthy), and they kiss in the movie, but there is something beyond Bromance at times here which makes you wonder if Bob got some homosexual feelings he is repressing with his childhood trauma.