Monday, February 18, 2013


Directed by John Whitesell. 
2012. Rated PG, 94 minutes. 

Kevin Durant
Taylor Gray
James Belushi
Larramie Doc Shaw
Tristin Mays
Robert Belushi
Spencer Daniels
Hana Hayes

Brian (Gray) is so bad at basketball, dribbling the ball twice without breaking a bone is a major accomplishment. Making a shot, no matter how close to the basket, requires divine intervention. His sister, with an opportunistic camera, regularly posts videos on YouTube of his athletic failures. Still, he loves the sport so much he's the manager for his high school team. He also obsesses over his hometown NBA team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and their star player, Kevin Durant who plays himself. During halftime of a Thunder game, Brian once again publicly humiliates himself when he's selected to take a half-court shot for a prize, but he gets to meet his idol, Durant. They share a brief moment which includes Brian wishing he had Durant's talent and Durant, being polite, wishing he could give it to the kid. Wouldn't ya know it, the star's talent actually does transfer to Brian through the ball they're simultaneously holding, though this is unbeknownst to either. The next day, Brian is suddenly a basketball prodigy while Durant shoots like he's trying to throw a BB through a keyhole from thirty paces away. More predictably bland cheese ensues.

As expected, Brian makes his way onto his school basketball team and quickly becomes the best high school player in the state of Oklahoma. With his new found skill comes the pretty girl, arrogance, etc. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant's agent frantically tries to figure out what's going on. Eventually, he makes the incredible leap in logic needed to put two and two together and get five which is, of course, the correct answer in this case. The agent is played by Brandon T. Jackson who, as usual, seems to be doing a Chris Tucker impersonation. That said, he's pretty much the only one in the cast with any charisma whatsoever. While Jackson is doing Tucker, Gray as Brian is giving us his best Shia LaBeouf. Our leading lady Tristin Mays is very vanilla as Isabel, AKA the pretty girl. The most notable part of her performance is that she resembles a very young Jessica Alba. The rest of the kids play stock characters and have quite literally fallen off the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon assembly lines judging by my daughters who, after recognizing a number of faces, both exclaimed "Everybody's in this movie!"

Finally, among the actors, there's Kevin Durant. True, he's currently one of the best players in the NBA. However, as an actor, he's no Ray Allen. Many moons ago, Allen gave a performance in Spike Lee's He Got Game that, while not great, improved as the movie went on. KD is stuck in neutral. Based on everything I've heard or read about him, he's a genuinely nice guy. It seems no one has a bad word to say about him. His game has made him a superstar, able to sell shoes and a number of other things. He's just not yet a particularly compelling personality. His presence is entirely summed up in his height. He simply towers over everything else in the movie. However, other than that, there is no reason to actually pay attention to him.

Since Thunderstruck is a basketball movie involving magical powers it draws easy comparisons to Like Mike. Truth told, it's more like the love-child of Freaky Friday and Teen Wolf. It borrows heavily from both. I think you already get the Freaky Friday part of the equation. As far as Teen Wolf is concerned, you might've picked up on the arrogance thing. We also get a best friend who actively promotes him, a world weary coach (Belushi) and our hero has a major decision to make about how he will play the big game. What happens next is about as close as this movie could come to Teen Wolf. Thunderstruck even has similarly awful basketball choreography.

All in all, it's a harmless flick that takes no risks and, as a result, reaps very few rewards. It would be right at home on one of those kiddie stations I mentioned, or on ABC Family. That said, if you have children you have a dilemma. There is enough charm and fun for the kids to enjoy. It plucks along to its inevitable conclusion while you seriously contemplate maiming yourself. And no, I don't remember hearing the AC DC song of the same name.

MY SCORE: 3.5/10

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