Thunderforce Day 15

Melissa McCarthy, left, stars in ‘Thunder Force.’

There’s no shortage of comedic riffs on the superhero genre, except for one about middle-aged women.

Unfortunately, “Thunder Force,” a new Netflix comedy starring Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer, can’t find an interesting angle to justify its existence.

Instead of being super, “Thunder Force” is typical in just about every way, including how our main characters, Lydia (McCarthy) and Emily (Spencer) meet up.

A young Emily is an orphan who’s bullied at school for both acting and dressing like a nerd, with giant glasses and old cardigans and button-ups. Lydia is a typical outsider, clad in Slayer and Van Halen T-shirts, and is ready to throw down when boys push Emily around

From there, a friendship is formed. As they get older, Emily gets estranged from Lydia, focusing her ambitions solely on creating a way to make regular people into superhumans so they can challenge a group of villains, known as Miscreants, plaguing their city with violence and mayhem.

The two are forced to re-team when Lydia becomes patient zero for the experimental program and has to learn how to fight crime while being less awkward.

Everything about “Thunder Force” feels like a watered-down re-run of McCarthy’s better material in movies like “Spy” and “Bridesmaids.” While she’s less profane in this, she continues to be the character who makes awkward pop culture references, stumbles and stammers and is rude but likable enough in moments to keep around.

This is mostly because it’s directed by Ben Falcone, McCarthy’s husband and long-time collaborator in some of her worst movies. Feeling like he’s too close to McCarthy to rein her in, he often lets comedic bits drag on for too long. An extended riff on Steve Urkel immediately comes to mind.

Falcone has all of the elements that have worked in other McCarthy comedies, like previous co-stars Jason Bateman and Bobby Cannavale as sleazy bad guys and a high-concept plot that would allow for some big laughs. But he does nothing interesting with it.

“Thunder Force’s” direction is flat and unmemorable, and placed next to top-level superhero satire like “The Incredibles” or the Amazon TV series “The Boys,” it looks even more dim-witted and dull.

Andrew Gaug can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter: @NPNOWGaug

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