There is a place in this world for silly comedy. I don’t deny that and, in many cases, I don’t shun the results. But I do get frustrated when I see there was more potential. The simple fact is that Ben Falcone (Superintelligence) just isn’t a great writer or director. He has one trick: he’s married to Melissa McCarthy (Superintelligence). And while McCarthy often falls back on a smallish bag of tricks, especially when working with her partner, she is also capable of great acting (see Can You Ever Forgive Me?).
It isn’t that Thunder Force isn’t entertaining. It has some really funny moments and is an amusing send-up of the genre. But it is full of flawed logic and weak plotting. Those two things turn a satire into sketch comedy. And sketch comedy works best in shorter delivery systems rather than stretched over 115 minutes.
However, the approach does allow Bobby Cannavale (Superintelligence – seeing a trend on this one?) and Pom Klementieff (Ingrid Goes West, Guardians of the Galaxy) to chew the scenery in entertaining ways…at least for them. Even Octavia Spencer (The Witches) can’t help but tear a few splinters with her teeth, though her comfort with the type of humor in this movie is palpable.
Only Jason Bateman (Disconnect) and Taylor Mosby (The Last OG) tackle their roles with a quiet intensity that drops comedy softly amid the din of the rest of the movie. Melissa Leo (Equalizer 2, The Angriest Man in Brooklyn) certainly holds her own in this way, but her character is oddly downplayed in this final cut. Or, perhaps, Falcone just cast too good an actor in the tiny role.
For some distracting laughs, this isn’t time poorly spent. It is very much in the vein of Mystery Men, but without even the craft of that silly and flawed comedy to pull this off completely (and it certainly isn’t The Heat on any level–which I respected but didn’t care for). Superintelligence was a much better result…and the difference, in part, is that Falcone didn’t write that one. So go into this with some popcorn and salt between your cheek and gum. Enjoy it for what it is and let go of what it could be. For the end of a long week as a distraction, it wasn’t unwelcome.