With “Central Intelligence,” the question of high school is bound to come up. In the action-comedy, Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson play former high schoolers who reunite 20 years after graduation. Hart’s Calvin was the most popular kid in school; he wound up a bored office drone. Johnson’s Bob, meanwhile, was a bullied kid who turned into a muscled super-spy.
Hart’s story about the good old days is nice; Johnson’s is not.
“I was a popular kid. You guys can tell I was a really cool guy,” Hart says. “I wasn’t the best student, but I was a people person. I was the one who got along with any and everybody. There was no segregation, from the athletes to the non-athletes, to the people into education to the people who played hooky. To get embraced by everybody was a good feeling. It kept me out of fights. The funny guy stops the fights and makes people want to laugh about it. Everyone walks away saying, ‘Kevin is right.’”
Johnson’s stories aren’t so rosy. He was a troubled youth, arrested multiple times before he was 16.
“I spent a lot of time trying to get back on the right track,” Johnson explains. “It wasn’t until I got involved with sports and athletics that I had a focus.”
It’s not unusual to talk about deeper stuff when talking “Central Intelligence,” which is on one hand a silly blockbuster (and one where Johnson gets to play the goofier character, prone to unicorn tees and creep-silly actions). On the other it deals with things like fear of failure, fear of aging, even bullying.
“I believe in the whole anti-bullying thing,” Hart says, then adds, “As a kid I think you need a bit of drama. I don’t like the people who are trying to make these kids’ lives perfect. You have to go through something. You need to build character. Within situations that make you feel uncomfortable come life lessons.
“I have two kids myself. I’m hoping my son gets into some stuff at a young age and comes to me. Then I’ll say, ‘Hey, man, figure it out!’” Hart continues. “You’ve got to figure it out when you’re on your own. You don’t want the kid to be 18 and he’s approached with his first fight and he’s like, ‘Dad! She hit me in the back of the head!’ I don’t want to shelter my kids. You can’t stop these things from happening. You can communicate. Just make sure people understand their self-worth and their value.”