Thunderstruck Blu-ray Review
Some people are just not meant to act. This is especially true for sports stars. Kevin Durant is a great player in the NBA. He can score on anyone and he is fearless in clutch situations. He is also humble and soft spoken. Those are unusual traits to have as a superstar basketball player. These traits though however don’t translate well to the silver screen where charisma is king. Durant’s acting is one of the many things wrong with the new feature THUNDERSTRUCK. I can’t fault Durant for at least trying.
THUNDERSTRUCK is similar in many ways to LIKE MIKE, which came out a decade earlier. In LIKE MIKE, a young Lil’ Bow Wow (before he dropped Lil’ from his name) magically got the talents of Michael Jordan after getting the shoes he had as a kid. That movie had humor, heart and surprising bite to the script. All of these qualities are lacking in THUNDERSTRUCK.
THUNDERSTRUCK also goes with the basketball theme. Brian (Taylor Gray) is a classic klutz. He tries real hard, but lacks any type of athletic ability. Brian wants so much to be noticed at school that he has his dunk attempts at home taped by his best friend Mitch (Doc Shaw). Brian is only the manager on his basketball team after two failed attempts to make the team. He is reduced to getting water and towels for the other team members. Adding to his embarrassment, one of his disastrous videos is broadcast to the school cafeteria right before Brian attempts to make a move on the lovely new student Isabel (Tristin Mays).
Brian’s mood gets perked up when his father takes him to an Oklahoma City Thunder game to see his favorite player Kevin Durant. As a side note, I will say that it is refreshing that the movie is supposed to be set in Oklahoma and not say Los Angeles or New York. At halftime, Brian gets chosen to shoot a half court shot for some cold hard cash. Brian naturally misses the basket completely and hits the mascot instead. Durant retrieves the ball and gives Brian a pep talk. This is where the magic happens. Durant’s basketball talents are transferred to Brian as they touch the basketball.
This occurrence should set up all sorts of fun situations and comedic moments. But Director John Whitesell and screenwriters Eric Champnella and Jeff Farley fail repeatedly in this regard. They borrow liberally from the aforementioned LIKE MIKE and even TEEN WOLF, the 80s classic from Michael J. Fox. The first mistake was the actual transfer of talents. Brian becomes a great basketball player with awesome athletic ability. Durant, who plays himself, just inherits Brian’s lack of basketball skills. The screenwriters could have done so much more on Durant’s side of the equation. Why not have Durant suddenly be a whiz at math or something? There were just so many comedic possibilities that were passed over in favor of just making Durant bad at basketball. It is this lack of imagination that drags this movie down.
After Brian gets his newfound skills, he convinces the coach to give him another shot. Brian becomes a scoring machine, who can dunk while also having a deft outside touch. Brian wins the affections of Isabel and is a hero to the school thirsting for a winner. His friend Mitch starts hawking shirts at school of him. This is a direct rip off of Stiles from Teen Wolf and Mitch is nowhere near as colorful as Stiles. You can safely predict what will happen next. Brian gets a big head, starts ball hogging and generally becomes an unbearable person to be around. If you are thinking once again this sounds exactly what happens in TEEN WOLF, you would be correct. Even for a family film, it is remarkably tone deaf in what kids or teens would want to see. I don’t mean for the film to be more adult oriented or too edgy, just more creative.
Let me further count the ways this film misfires. The relationship between Brian and Isabel is too easy coming together. She practically likes him from the beginning and he wins her over with impressive shooting at a carnival game. I wanted Brian to have more of a challenge in this regard. There just isn’t a nice build up there. There also needs to be a better villain for Brian to play off of. One of the other players had potential to fill this role, but it is never fully tapped.
The coach played by James Belushi is supposed to be funny, but he is painfully unfunny. He is a typical bumbling coach who lives off his past athletic glories and likes to quote from other better movies. I did chuckle when the coach kept on calling Brian by another name. But that is a time honored tradition showing that a character is invisible to this person. At least Belushi did get to act with his son who played the assistant coach.
Now we get to the acting or attempt of acting by Kevin Durant. He truly should just stick to basketball. It is painful watching Durant act mad or even attempt to miss shots on purpose. It just doesn’t work. Then you have his scenes with his agent Alan (Brandon T. Jackson who has been much better in other films). They are beyond ridiculous. I can’t see an agent interrupting a tv interview with his client or feeding him basketballs to improve his lousy shot. The former ruins the image of Durant and coaches are there for the latter. As Durant’s slump continues, there is a silly scene with Candace Parker who is concerned with her image being connected with Durant. It is tomfoolery and shows that Parker isn’t a great actor as well. The TNT announcers like Reggie Miller and Charles Barkley don’t fare much better with their exasperation and overacting about Durant’s poor performance. The one good thing to be said is that the film uses real footage of NBA games. There is no simulated action that looks so fake when used.
There’s not much music used in the film. They do have one hard rock song in there and it’s not the AC/DC song of the same name. Why have the title of the movie be THUNDERSTRUCK and not use the AC/DC song? It boggles the mind. That is just another instance of a missed opportunity.
The ending is corny. The conclusion harkens back to TEEN WOLF again. Brian loses his incredible skills and the team has to rely on teamwork to win the game. At the end of the day THUNDERSTRUCK is a harmless family film that takes no chances. It will be quickly forgotten from your mind immediately after watching it.
Video: The one good thing about the film is that it looks nice. Nothing really stands out negative or positive.
Audio: Same with the video. All the actors can be heard distinctly and that is indeed helpful.
KD’s Klinic (5:27): This is a feature about making the film and what it entailed. Much of the talk is on the moves of Kevin Durant.
Backboards to Clapboards (6:01): Kevin Durant is the star of this feature. He and others talk about his role and what he went through during filming.
Coach “Z” (3:22): James Belushi is in character and shenanigans are had by all. Not as fun as it sounds.
Tristin Mays’ Video Blog (3:13): The actress captures some behind the scenes stuff with her trusty camera.
Deleted Scenes (4:45): 4 scenes in all. The first two involve Brian and his family. The third shows Brian flirting with Isabel. The fourth has Kevin Durant getting acupuncture to cure his shooting woes. The first three deleted scenes could have helped some in fleshing out Brian and his relationships with his family and Isabel.