Review: "Thunder Force"
Spencer plays straight woman to McCarthy's goofball antics in this fun, female take on the superhero genre. New ground is broken in terms of representation, but otherwise Thunder Force follows familiar formulas of "good guys vs. bad guys" with a comic twist, meaning its appeal to audiences will rest almost entirely on its stars.
McCarthy invariably delivers the funniest lines and has the best pratfalls of Thunder Force, and her fling with Bateman's crab-man is priceless. She and Spencer, who seems a little less comfortable with the physicality of her role, make a great pair, and the script does a sufficient job of setting up their deep childhood bond and divergent paths.
Memorable scenes include the duo crooning '80s ballads, squeezing in and out of their too-tiny Lamborghini, and reacting to Emily's grandma's conviction that they're secretly a couple. When Grandma Norma (Marcella Lowery) produces a wedding cake topper with two women, one Black and one White, Lydia cracks a joke asking which one is supposed to be her -- which is really the script's only reference to the two friends' different races.
The fact that they're heavier, older, and a different gender from standard-issue movie superheroes is also treated as somewhat of a non-issue, outside of the Lamborghini gag and a couple of one-liners.
That doesn't mean that the film, which was written and directed by McCarthy's husband, Ben Falcone (who also has a small role), avoids issues of identity or representation. Thunder Force sends a clear female empowerment message, including having a woman named Gonzales as the mayor of Chicago, and it pokes gentle fun at older generations' attempts to be respectful of changing social norms, like when Lydia stumbles over her words trying to ask Emily's daughter the gender of the people she dates.
McCarthy's blue-collar, beer-guzzling, hard rock-listening, pro sports-watching Lydia is perhaps the film's biggest stereotype, and it wouldn't be hard to draw connections between real-life fear-mongering politicians and Cannavale's The King, but both comic portrayals are played for laughs, not jabs.
And with purposeful mention of the villainous mastermind being captured alive at the film's close, Thunder Force leaves open the possibility of a sequel.
Read the full review at Common Sense Media.