To paraphrase the great Dr. Perry Cox from “Scrubs“, played with scalding venom but lots of heart by John C. McGinley, “Please, please, please. Put down the camera and pen”. Yes, it’s that time of the year again when writer/director Ben Falcone releases his newest comedy to the world and, as ever, teams up with his wife Melissa McCarthy to make us all laugh and smile again. And, to be fair, we need as much fun and laugher as we can muster right now but the joke has already worn thin and its time for a change. Stop, it’s already dead.
Their latest effort tackles the superhero genre and its continued over-powering, far-reaching grasp on the cinematic landscape. It’s perfect fodder for ridicule and mockery, playing with its subtleties and clichés that have become so commonplace in 21st century pop culture and who better than someone like McCarthy and her unique manic energy to attempt such things? Well, in theory, it’s a great idea – in practice, not so much. Instead of being funny, original and fresh, it’s yet another dud in a long line of them since McCarthy’s show-stealing performance in Bridesmaids.
Thunder Force marks the fifth big-screen team-up between director and star, husband and wife, and while it’s certainly a step-up compared to the other duds – most notably last year’s Superintelligence and 2014’s awful Tammy – sadly, it doesn’t cut the mustard. Set in Chicago, the world has changed since a freak intergalactic anomaly in 1983 has awoken multiple super-villains, known as miscreants, and since then they have plagued the city. Scientist Emily Stanton (Octavia Spencer) vowed to rid the world of them after her parents were killed in the incident, and in a crazy happenstance, her research soon crosses paths with her old high-school friend Lydia (McCarthy) who becomes superhuman alongside Emily to fight the powers of darkness, led by the evil The King (Bobby Cannavale).
So far, so superhero-y but despite their best intentions, Thunder Force falls flat with a big thud almost from the outset. Jokes barely register, the action is repetitive and slow and both McCarthy and the always brilliant Spencer struggle to make any real impact despite a winning chemistry that may have struck more of a chord with more focus. The only thing that sticks is a side romance between Lydia and Crab Man (yep, you read that right), played with usual sardonic panache by Jason Bateman, that injects some real fleeting fun into proceedings, with one scene between them providing a much-needed standout moment. Otherwise, it’s sadly a bit of a damp squib.
Adventure, Comedy | USA, 2021 | 12 | Netflix | 9th April 2021 | Dir.Ben Falcone | Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer, Jason Bateman, Bobby Cannavale, Pom Klementieff, Melissa Leo,