Central Intelligence ***
With Kevin Hart reprising his funny (and only) character; the undersized, loud, bumbling whoever, that can’t get out of his own way, along with Duane “The Rock” Johnson stretching himself a bit, “Central Intelligence,” surprisingly manages to be a pretty entertaining film. Hart is always funny and his comic chops are spot on, but the real star of the movie is Johnson, who plays a CIA operative, and former high school pal of Hart’s character, dissatisfied accountant Calvin Joyner. Johnson’s plays Bob Stone, an agent who may or may not have gone rogue, and who is, regardless, off his rocker. In this accidental buddy comedy, one you’ve seen a million times, director Rawson Marshall Thurber (“We’re the Millers,”“Dodgeball”) and writer Ike Barinholtz (“The Mindy Project,”) add some fun twists, breathing a bit of freshness into an otherwise stale formula. Flashbacks of Johnson’s character as an overweight high school victim of bullying, a small uncredited role from Jason Bateman, at his sardonic and cruel best, all help to move the predictable story along, without insulting your intelligence too badly.
Independence Day: Resurgence **1/2
They’re ba-aa-ack… And this time the aliens have brought the mother of all mother ships with them, one that’s 3,000 miles wide, and is about to steal the Earth’s molten core. And so begins a series of ridiculously implausible realities we’re asked to believe. So we suspend our disbelief, and try to enjoy the ride as Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsh and Brent Spinner all reprise their roles from the 1996 original. New to the franchise, is Liam Hemsworth, the film’s star, as a Tom Cruise-ish pilot with a former best friend/arch rival Jessie usher, who plays the son of Will Smith’s character. Smith decided not to return to the franchise – maybe he read the screenplay and opted out – anyway, the bottom line is if you loved the first Independence Day, then you’ll probably enjoy this sequel, but even 20 years and $165-million budget can’t always save the day.