The Reel Review
Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer star in this Netflix action comedy about a couple of estranged childhood friends who, because of a special serum, become unwitting crime fighters against a group of sociopathic superheroes called Miscreants. The film is written and directed by McCarthy’s husband, Ben Falcone, who also appears in the film in a cameo role.
This buddy comedy/superhero mashup is a lazy, listless misfire – like one of those really long skits in the final half hour of Saturday Night Live. The few times it shows promise is when McCarthy and Jason Bateman (wearing prosthetic pinchers for arms as The Crab) spontaneously riff. Those moments are cute and clever. Sadly, there are far too few of them to offset Falcone’s uninspired, bland screenplay. His direction even squeezes the life out of the funny moments. Spencer looks bored. Melissa Leo looks bored. Even Bobby Cannavale and Pom Klementieff (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), as the villains, look bored.
Poor Melissa. As naturally funny as she is, the material here is just unsalvageable. Despite that, Thunder Force is still the best of the handful of McCarthy/Falcone collaborations, which include such stinkers as Life of the Party, The Boss, and Tammy. But given how epically awful those prior productions are, the bar here is shockingly low.
• Longtime friends Octavia Spencer (The Help) and Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) were both nominees for the 2012 Best Supporting Actress Oscar that Spencer won. Thunder Force co-star Melissa Leo (The Fighter) won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar the prior year.
• Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone’s oldest daughter, Vivian Falcone (The Boss), plays Young Lydia in Thunder Force.
• The raw chicken that Melissa McCarthy’s character eats in Thunder Force is actually carefully prepared Asian pear by Atlanta chef and food stylist Mallory DeGolian.