THUNDER FORCE (2021)

Written & Directed By: Ben Falcone
Cinematography: Barry Peterson 
Editor: Tia Nolan 

Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer, Bobby Cannavale, Jason Bateman, Pom Klementieff, Melissa Leo, Taylor Mosby, Kevin Dunn, Ben Falcone 

In a world terrorized by super-villains, one woman has developed the process to give superpowers to regular people. But when scientist Emily Stanton accidentally imbues her estranged best friend with incredible abilities, the two women must become the first superhero team. Now, it is up to Thunder Force to battle the super-powered Miscreants and save Chicago from the clutches of The King.


It seems with most new comedic vehicles that Melissa McCarthy makes it seem to drag down the quirky of her stock. What is more digressing is that usually, these films are her own creation with her writer-director husband Ben Falcone. 

For every BRIDESMAIDS, SPY or even THE HEAT. There is a LIFE OF THE PARTY or TAMMY. At least THE BOSS was somewhat entertaining.

The bright spots of this film are few in-between. As at least the film becomes fun when it comes to the scenes with her and Jason Bateman as they still obviously have chemistry from the forgettable Studio film IDENTITY THEFT.

Like that film, this seems to want to be a forced buddy comedy. Where we how for the best. While two different personalities are forced to work together. While the stench of corporate studio movie making and synergy is pretty obvious. 

It’s almost like an Adam Sandler Netflix film which you know most likely will be bad. If they keep serving you and you take a chance and instantly regret it usually. As you remember how good they can be no how many better films they made than the one you are forcing yourself to watch. Hoping for something salvageable amongst the wreck. 

The other bright spot of the film is anytime the film deals with the villains and their hierarchy. Which isn’t the sharpest writing but some of the funnier material. That could have easily been a sketch more than anything.

The problem isn’t that the film isn’t inspired, it just does nothing with the idea or ideas it has Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer are friends in real life and used to do improv shows together and were nominated on the same year for Best Supporting actress at the academy awards McCarthy for BRIDESMAIDS and SPENCER for THE HELP which she won for.

Other than that you wish they could have chosen a better project. As this film most of the time comes off as pretty flat. The jokes come off as simple and weak and while this is meant to be a spoof or take off of superheroes. Nothing seems quite Inspired and the film comes off as tame.

This could easily be a family film with how inoffensive it is. It’s Predictable and you wonder about the intelligence of most of the characters. Such as why a successful mayoral candidate doesn’t suspect a thing when the person she beat all Of a sudden wants to throw her a victory party. 

You Can tell where the film and story are going constantly and the deepest character development we get from McCarthy is that her loser character obsesses about classic rock band music. Even a character they introduce when they are kids and have a crush on Spencer who we see as an adult goes nowhere. 

The film is a major disappointment especially when it seemed to be aiming pretty high. Though comes off more not as anything made for the big screen but almost purposely meant to be on streaming or television as it’s scope and aim seem so narrow but try to aim for bigger and better 

Though to be fair it’s rare that there has been a successful superhero comedy. 

Grade: D

THE FAMILY FANG (2016)

Directed By: Jason Bateman 
Written By: David Lindsay-Abaire 
Based On The book By: Kevin Wilson 
Cinematography By: Ken Seng 
Editor: Robert Frazen 

Cast: Jason Bateman, Nicole Kidman, Christopher Walken, Kathryn Hahn, Marin Ireland, Harris Yulin, Josh Pais, Michael Chernus, Danny Burnstein, Steve Barrish, Steve Witting


The first trailer for the film wasn’t released until three weeks before the release date. So the film never really had a chance. Which is strange considering the film’s pedigree.

Whatever I write about this film. It will come off as seeming bitter. As I read the book first and was a big fan of the book. I looked forward to watching this film as, after all, I liked Jason Bateman’s directorial debut BAD WORDS. And since the book was also a dark comedy. I thought it was a match that made sense. The film speeds up the story. Realized that most likely the book’s story would have to be condensed and the dynamics of the story reworked. Not necessarily changing details but leaving less informed turns and losing a certain context hurts the story overall.

It certainly hurt my appreciation of the story presented here. Probably because I read it so recently We would of course expect what you enjoyed being on display. If not in the story then at least in the mood. A film that you would expect more from or certainly handled by a director who had more of a reputation and history with similar material.

I believe I would have enjoyed the film more if I wasn’t so familiar with the material. The films seem smaller-scaled then needed. Shrinking the story to a degree. As it seems to try and be more intimate with the characters to be like a study by not moving the story forward as the book did with so many actions and distractions.

The novel ranked among Time’s “Top Ten Fiction Books of 2011”.

In the translation, it feels like certain layers are lost. The book could have made a great movie. Just. It. This is not this film, unfortunately. As the changes also impact the story. But makes it feel more grounded in reality and not so fantastic in the situations and parts. It never seems to have the impact that it should. As things happen and the film just seems to let them slide off the character’s soldiers. Never taking the time or accepting the consequences. Jason Bateman seems to be playing his usual type of characters. So that it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch. Maybe he wanted it to be easier as he also must direct the film. He plays the role with as many issues or sensitivity as the story provides for his character. His character here is more put together and takes charge. Not as distraught as he should be.

He moves forward as a filmmaker showing more depth and talent. Though I thoroughly enjoyed his first film as a director. Here it seems he is more interested in making a strange story more conventional. Understand he must condense, cut scenes and characters as well as events.

Nicole Kidman seems to wear her character on her sleeves, but she is good in the role of the damaged sister who becomes an actress. She gives a good performance that is more serious and how’s how grounded and good an actress she can be if given the right material. As she comes off less recognizable and less of a star even though she is playing one.

Jason Bateman and Nicole Kidman both have several credits on the project. Bateman is the director, star, and producer of the film, while Kidman brought the rights to the book, served as a producer, and as the leading lady.

This is a project that is obviously very close and personal to both the stars. Who I wonder if they didn’t let their influence and their own visions of what they felt the story was really about and letting them reach a catharsis to challenge themselves. As well as letting it be their own homecoming and look at their careers For instance, it has a reunion of Steve Witting and Jason Bateman. The earlier collaboration was the Television series ‘Valerie’. Thought hey share no scenes together. He also casts Kathryn Hahn in a small role. This is their third time working together including being his romantic interest in his directorial debut. As well as Kidman hiring David Lindsay-Abaire who previously wrote the film RABBIT HOLE which she starred in

Trying to condense an epic story into a confined space that limits it and it’s beauty as well as shortening it’s reach.

The film maintains it’s questioning of art and artists throughout. The argument of life and art and what exactly is art is never answered. Which I believe is intentional to make the audience constantly wonder. As the film seems more nostalgic tinged and twee like a dysfunctional family as quirky more than devastating.

Feelings and emotions are on display as the story seems to be about overcoming your passion. Making reactions of others the real art. Turning it on the audience to make them more the performers. As the film puts an essential mystery in the middle of the film, but as the characters get more clues to try and solve it the film. Doesn’t make it feel urgent at all and seems like it is more of an annoyance than anything else. The film goes for a look of southern gothic.

The film is disappointing, both as a representation of the book and as a film on it’s own. Not a bad film as it has it’s own strengths of note, though the story feels more rushed then it should. It barely takes it’s time before it is off on another lead.

So many details that could have been explored or slowed down instead seem more plot-oriented then necessary. Characters that had a darkness to them to match where the story goes are lightened up. So it feels more upbeat. Though truthfully there is nothing wrong with the film technically.

It’s nice to see the cast is filled with naturalistic looking actors rather than unbelievably good looking stars.

Maybe as the adaptation of the book is written by a playwright. The film ends up feeling more like a play or at least more a theatrical piece than necessary The film lacks the depth of what made the original so magical and a delight to read. As well as softening the ending. Making the film feel too cut and dry. Though it seems like a quirky film that normally would be Oscar bait. That comes across as slight more than anything.

Grade: C

THE SWEETEST THING (2002)

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Directed By: Roger Kumble
Written By: Nancy Pimental
Cinematography By: Anthony B. Richmond
Editor: David Rennie & Wendy Greene Bricmont

Cast: Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate, Selma Blair, Thomas Jane, Jason Bateman, Parker Posey, Frank Grillo

To ease their roommate through a relationship-induced depression, Christina Walters and Courtney Rockcliffe take her out on the town. During their attempts to find her “Mr. Right Now”, Christina meets Peter Donahue. Missing her opportunity with him that night, Christina is talked into pursuing him to his brother’s wedding.

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GAME NIGHT (2018)

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Directed By: John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein
Written By: Mark Perez
Cinematography: Barry Peterson
Editor: David Egan, Jamie Gross & Gregory Plotkin 

Cast: Jason Bateman, Billy Magnussen, Rachel McAdams, Jesse Plemmons, Kyle Chandler, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Danny Huston, Michael C. Hall, Chelsea Peretti, Kylie Bunbury, Natasha Hall 


A group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves entangled in a real-life mystery when the shady brother of one of them is seemingly kidnapped by dangerous gangsters.

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HORRIBLE BOSSES (2011)

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Directed By: Seth Gordon
Written By: Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein
Story By: Michael Markowitz
Cinematography: David Hennings
Editor: Peter Teschner 


Cast: Charlie Day, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudekis, Colin Farrell, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx, Lindsay Sloane, Meghan Markle, Donald Sutherland, Julie Bowen, John Francis Daley, Wendell Pierce, Ron White, Bob Newhart 

Three friends conspire to murder their awful bosses when they realize they are standing in the way of their happiness.

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THE CHANGE-UP (2011)

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Directed By: David Dobkin
Written By: Jon Lucas & Scott Moore
Cinematography: Eric Edwards
Editor: Lee Haxall & Greg Hayden 


Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Craig Bierko, Alan Arkin, Gregory Itzen, Mircea Monroe, Fred Stoller 


Dave is a married man with three kids and a loving wife, and Mitch is a single man who is at the prime of his sexual life. One fateful night while Mitch and Dave are peeing in a fountain, lightning strikes and they switch bodies.

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