Warner Bros. // 2012 // 94 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 17th, 2012
Buy the new Kevin Durant Nike sneaker!
And then go see an Oklahoma City Thunder game!
Brian (Taylor Gray) is a young boy with a dream: to one day be respected in his high school as a serviceable basketball player. But that won't happen because Brian absolutely sucks at basketball and the closest he ever gets to the court is on the sidelines as the team's equipment manager.
One night, Brian's dad takes him to an Oklahoma City Thunder game where he can watch his favorite player, Kevin Durant. Even better, Brian meets his idol at halftime and thanks to some mysterious supernatural mojo, Durant's immense skill is transferred to Brian. Soon, Brian is starting for his team and regularly drops 50 points a game. Meanwhile, Durant hits a major slump, lofting up bricks and finding himself ridiculed on a nightly basis by the NBA on TNT guys.
Can Durant get his talent back? Will the fame get to Brian's head? How much are you willing to pony up for the hot new KD4 high-performance basketball shoe?
Why don't you go ahead and save yourself 90 minutes and answer that last question. That's the whole point of Thunderstruck anyway, a painfully charm-free commercial masquerading as a family film. Hey, I like Kevin Durant. He seems like a good dude, immensely talented and anchoring a feel-good small-market pro basketball team. But I'm perfectly capable of deciding on my own if I want to hit the local Foot Locker and book a flight to OKC to take in a Thunder game. I don't need his prodding.
Goodness gracious is Durant stiff here. I'd like to say he gives it his all, but I just don't think he's got it in him. He's famously low-key, which does not make for a star-making turn in feature films. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and think he was looking to just make a sweet-natured kids film, but that doesn't mean he's still not as animated a crash test dummy here.
Still, I'll take a near-catatonic Kevin Durant over Taylor Gray's character. The little guy is more of an acting pro (he headlines the Nickelodeon series Bucket and Skinner's Epic Adventures) and he seems to have some legit basketball skills, but he's saddled with a lame persona. Brian is not well-liked by his basketball teammates and it's not hard to see why; he's the kind of dweeb that sits by himself in his room watching instant replays of Kevin Durant and shouting to know one in particular "Yes! A dunk!" This tool deserves every bit of societal alienation coming to him.
None of this really matters because none of this movie makes sense in the first place. You want to have Kevin Durant lose his talent through some mysticism? Fine. But at least play by the ridiculous rules you set up. Brian not only gains basketball talent but his basic physiology changes so he can dunk the ball. And Durant doesn't really suck. He still has shooting form, but just tosses up bricks. Could we not have gotten just a little bit of fun at his expense as he fiddles around helpless on the court? Nope. Just some missed layups and guffawing by Charles Barkley (though to be fair, Barkley has the funniest line in the film, saying it's not Durant's mechanics that are flawed, it's that he's playing like his mechanic; I guess you had to be there). In the end, Brian learns a predictable lesson and there's a predictable sports movie cliche outcome and just buy some damn sneakers already!!!
Solid Blu-ray, starting with a sharp 1.85:1/1080p transfer and amplified with the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. It's not a reference disc, but there's plenty of basketball action on the screen and the A/V is up to the task of making it look and sound swell. Four featurettes for extras: "KD's Klinic" (Durant and Gray talking about the basketball scenes), "Coach Z" (Jim Belushi! Hooray!), "From Backboards to Clapboards" (how Durant got involved with the film) and "Tristin Mays' Video Blog" (behind-the-scenes footage shot from one of the young co-stars).
I'm all about retail marketing, but at least make it semi-entertaining.
Guilty. Ride the pine.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated PG