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Netflix Rec: Thunder Force


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http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/poster-203x300.jpeg It is deeply rare that all four of the humans who reside in my home enjoy the same piece of entertainment. I think the last time this happened, we were watching Good Omens.

Thunder Force is nothing like Good Omens except that all four of us had a terrific time watching it, and I was as immensely pleased with myself for selecting it for our Friday night pizza and a movie. It is ideal “watch over dinner” television.

Thunder Force occupies the quadrant territory of media that is not objectively brilliant or perfect, but is immensely enjoyable while it’s on. It’s silly, it’s fun, and it’s a familiar set of beats and story points set against characters and actors who don’t always get the silly fun roles.

Octavia Spencer is a tech super genius, as is her daughter, and runs a company with her name on the side of the damn building. She’s invented a genetic modification that will give people superpowers to combat evil superpowered people who are terrible and caused the death of Spencer’s parents when she was younger. Melissa McCarthy is her childhood best friend and personality opposite who have a falling out in high school only to reconnect when it’s (ugh) high school reunion time.

Octavia Spencer has marvelous comic timing, as does Taylor Mosby, who plays her daughter with sunny, intelligent determination. McCarthy is the same in this role as she is in many others, unafraid to make herself the center of a comedy sequence that spins out into ridiculousness (in some cases for a bit too long) but she’s entirely in on the joke the entire time. And the soundtrack and the use of it made me snort laugh, too.

The base level kindness of the story is what sold me and the rest of the family on the silliness. McCarthy and Spencer are a brilliant comic team, and Mosby falls perfectly between them to balance out McCarthy’s bawdy and Spencer’s brains. Everyone chews on the scenery and the best scenes were between the two heroines.

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Jason Bateman has claws for arms and McCarthy has Old Bay in her cleavage. I mean, that might be everything you need to know about this movie.

Then I told everyone on the SBTB review team to watch it, and Tara was like, “ON IT.”

Tara: As we’re in what feels like month 973 of the pandemic, all I want is for movies and TV shows to suck me in and hold my attention. If they can make me laugh? Even better. Because of this, my husband and I have been gravitating towards comedies, whether it’s a TV show like Ted Lasso or films like Thunder Force.

When I asked him if he wanted to watch Thunder Force, he questioned if it would be good. My response? I didn’t care if it was going to be good. I just hoped it would be FUN. Turns out, that’s exactly what it was. There is so much to love about this movie, and Sarah articulated a lot of it already, so I’m going to “Yes, and…” everything she’s already said.

The opening scene, where we see McCarthy (Lydia) and Spencer’s (Emily) characters becoming friends in childhood, utterly charmed me. I hope the kid that plays Lydia gets more work, because she is hilarious and had my heart when she used the concept of subject-verb agreement to make a dig at Emily’s bully. While Lydia might be presented as the one who isn’t smart in their friendship, that opening scene proves that Emily is smarter than people give her credit for and that she has a huge heart.

Sarah: TARA. OMG. I just learned that Lydia at 12 is played by Melissa McCarthy’s daughter Vivian Falcone!!!

No wonder she was perfect and looked so much like a younger Melissa McCarthy.

Tara: That makes me love this movie EVEN MORE.

Emily’s grandmother (Marcella Lowry) was another favourite character of mine. Although she doesn’t have many scenes, one in particular had me in stitches. I won’t get into specifics, but her suspicion for why Emily and Lydia wanted to talk to her is perfect. Part of why I love her and that scene so much is related to why my heart was warmed every time Lydia interacts with Emily’s daughter: these people are family and love each other deeply, even when they’re acting like idiots. They all help each other be their best selves and it made me smile over and over.

Sarah: That was one of my favorite scenes, too.

Tara: The one problem I had with Thunder Force was that it seemed confused about who its audience is or what its rating should be. My husband said that, in some ways, its tone reminded him of the Spy Kids movies, but the content isn’t aimed at kids. It feels like the punch was pulled on some of the jokes and most of the swearing. We even pondered whether it was pitched as an R-rated film and then got scaled back to PG-13. We still enjoyed the film very much, but wonder if it might have been even more fun if it could have had that R.

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Imagine the joke potential…

Sarah: It’s funny you should say that, as we were saying the same thing, that it was like a slightly bawdier Spy Kids. Every time McCarthy stepped over a line, Spencer’s character would pull her back. (“Language….”)

Tara: Yes! The blooper real even shows the actors trying to keep it clean.

Blooper reel? BLOOPER REEL

If you’re wondering which other Melissa McCarthy films Thunder Force is most like, I’d say either Superintelligence or Life of the Party. Those were also two wonderful surprises that we watched during the quarantimes that weren’t perfect, but made us laugh and smile. This movie won’t change your life, but it’ll distract you from it, and that’s more than enough these days.

Also, I guarantee you won’t look at Old Bay or butter the same ever again.

Sarah: Yes, I completely agree. I enjoyed every bit of it. Especially the parts where me, my husband, and our two teenage boys laugh-screamed at the same moment.

The way I see it, there are umpty billion silly, slapstick adventure hero comedies featuring endlessly interchangeable White character actors who splash around in plots that are as familiar as the taste of Doritos and the smell of microwave popcorn.

It’s very silly that I have to say how refreshing it is to have silly, corny adventure buddy comedies with 50+ year old women with real and familiar bodies as the heroes, but it is. It’s refreshing and delightful and as much as I could point out where the film could have been a solid 15 minutes shorter, Thunder Force does exactly what it says it’s going to do. We happily recommend for your pizza-and-a-movie nights.

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