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(2021) (Octavia Spencer, Melissa McCarthy) (PG-13)

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Comedy/Action: Former friends inadvertently team up to become superheroes to defeat super villains plaguing their city.

Emily Stanton (OCTAVIA SPENCER) and Lydia Berman (MELISSA McCARTHY) grew up as classmates and friends in Chicago, but ultimately went their separate ways. While Lydia works in a cargo yard, Emily has continued her promise to honor her parents' deaths -- at the hands of super-powered villains known as Miscreants -- by developing a way for average people to become superheroes to defeat those bad characters.

When Lydia stops by Emily's new high-tech headquarters to see if her former friend wants to attend their high school reunion, she inadvertently activates a process that imbues her with super-strength, something that doesn't sit well with Emily's number two, Allie (MELISSA LEO). Needing to complete that process lest Lydia possibly die, Emily decides to use the other developed superpower -- invisibility -- on herself, with her super-smart 15-year-old daughter, Tracy (TAYLOR MOSBY), assisting her.

And it's none too soon, what with increased Miscreant behavior in the city, including from Laser (POM KLEMENTIEFF) who can create and shoots balls of destructive energy, and The Crab (JASON BATEMAN), a human with huge crustacean pincers. With their new superpowers, Emily and Lydia set out to stop them, initially unaware that they work for politician William "The King" Stevens (BOBBY CANNAVALE) who's running against Rachel Gonzales (MELISSA PONZIO) for mayor.

With The King determined to kill them so that he can use the mayorship to get to higher political office, Emily and Lydia become the superhero duo known as Thunder Force to make sure that doesn't happen.

OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10

I think it's great when spouses work together well, be that in their marriage, their home life and when raising kids and dealing with their families. But just because they've figured out how to do so on the domestic front doesn't automatically equate to the professional world.

And by that, I'm not referring to those who clash in the workforce if they choose or for some reason are forced to work together. While I'm sure there's plenty of that -- as well as couples that do manage to make that work -- I'm instead referring to the end result of such married working relationships.

If the ends don't justify the means, sometimes it's wise for a professional split or work divorce. Such would seem to be the case for married couple Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone. I'll readily admit that I know nothing about how they get along at home or work, but let's face it. The movies they make together aren't good and the evidence is present for everyone to see, not only on the screen, but also via critics' scores.

Case in point, with McCarthy appearing in front of the camera and Falcone behind it as the writer and/or director, they've delivered "Tammy" (Rotten Tomatoes score of 24%), "The Boss" (21%), "Life of the Party" (38%) and "Superintelligence" (31%). While we'll know soon enough how their latest offering rates, I can only imagine it's going to be equally bad.

And that's because, well, "Thunder Force" is similarly a misfire, be that as a comedy, a superhero flick, or even just a mindless, entertaining diversion. Someone please tell these two they need to go to moviemaking marriage counseling where the wisest option would seem to be suggesting an amicable cinema split for a while.

With Falcone resuming dual duties behind the camera, McCarthy appears as one half of the titular duo after she tries to convince her former school friend (Octavia Spencer) -- now a super-intelligent geneticist trying to create a way for regular humans to become superheroes and thus stop super-villains known as Miscreants from terrorizing Chicago -- to attend their high school reunion.

As is apt to happen in a comedy with an uncouth, bumbling (and some might say annoying) protagonist, McCarthy's Lydia accidentally gets the superhero makeover treatment (her newfound power is being super strong), while Spencer's Emily decides to go ahead and use the second half of the treatment (invisibility) on herself.

And that's because she made it her life mission to honor and avenge her parents' deaths years ago by figuring out a way to stop the Miscreants. Accordingly, she reluctantly joins forces with Lydia to take on the likes of Laser (Pom Klementieff) and The Crab (Jason Bateman, gamely playing a man with human-sized crab pincers in place of his arms and hands and trying to breathe some life into the material).

It's no surprise that they work for The King (Bobby Cannavale) who's running for mayor on a fearmongering, faux anti-Miscreant platform. The comedy is supposed to stem from the unlikely superheroes learning about and trying to use their powers, as well as McCarthy's character ending up with a romantic and culinary appetite for Bateman's and his Old Bay-worthy appendages.

But little to none of it's funny -- less discerning viewers might give the material a break compared to critics who've grown tired of lame comedy -- and the superhero spoof thing has been done before and certainly better.

As have pairings featuring married Hollywood figures. McCarthy and Falcone are like oil and water in that they simply don't mix well, at least in terms of finished product delivered to the masses. Arriving with more of a thud than what the title might otherwise suggest, "Thunder Force" rates as a 3.5 out of 10.

Reviewed April 7, 2021 / Posted April 9, 2021

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