Melissa McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone are very easy targets in the world of film criticism. In a way, this is justified. The movies they make as a team tend to be atrocious with the sense that the husband is piggybacking off his wife success within the Hollywood machine. Their R rated efforts will allow them to deliver scathingly unfunny gross-out gags for 90 to 100 minutes. That PG-13 offerings typically involve placing McCarthy in an established genre formula. Then placing other actors far too good for the material around her as McCarthy does hair stick. Now the pair have migrated to Netflix and delivered Thunder Force. This fits their-13 formula to a tee. McCarthy and Octavia Spencer (filling out the first of many actors in the latter category are childhood friends. They live in a world with some incredibly half baked hero/villain mythology. Through an unbelievably silly plot convenience, they end up forming a superhero duo to take on the bad guys.
McCarthy and Falcone’s take on superheroes is unsurprisingly nothing to write home about. There attempt at world-building that feels entirely perfunctory. As is typical of their films the talented supporting cast ( Bobby Cannavale, Pom Klementieffte and Melissa Leo.)The one minor exception is Jason Bateman. His villain with crab claws replacing human arms seems faulty weird and potentially experimental for this variety of lowest common denominators fair. A romantic dream sequence between McCarthy and Bateman probably gets the biggest laugh in any McCarthy/Falcone project thus far. It’s largely aggressively unfunny material. The limitations of the PG-13 rating audience mean that the film isn’t as potentially borderline painful to sit through compared to the creative teams gross-out work. This does not mean to say that Thunder Force is any good. McCarthy and Falcone will always be a critical punching bag. That said there is much worse out there. Removing the film from the context of its creative team it’s mostly bland and inoffensively dull.
A certain brand of critic will class Thunder Force as one of the worst films of the year. Don’t get this critic wrong the film is not very good. Impressively generic, mostly stone-faced levels of unfunny and with nothing to offer in a very crowded genre. That said the Jason Bateman crab man subplot is just weird enough to be memorable. The film is also incredibly inoffensive. It lacks the patience-testing quality of other McCarthy and Falcone collaborations. That said there’s nothing here to recommend here.