Directed by John Whitesell. Starring Kevin Durant, Taylor Gray, Brandon T. Jackson, James Belushi, Larramie Doc Shaw, Tristin Mays, Robert Belushi, Spencer Daniels. (2012, PG, 90 min.)
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Aug. 31, 2012
I’m all for people spreading their wings and trying out new things. But really, Kevin Durant: Isn’t an NBA championship and an Olympics gold medal enough for one mortal to achieve in 2012? Isn’t movie stardom pushing the envelope just a little too far, or is that just the sad reality of our modern times that cross-brands success. I know these basketball triumphs weren’t yet in the bag when Thunderstruck was filmed, and that you NBA guys had an extra-long layoff period between these last two seasons to get into mischief. But the truth is that all movie stardom is not created equal. Headlining a less-than-mediocre kids’ movie taints one’s brand rather than enhancing it. Just ask Shaq.
Durant appears as himself in this modest story that’s little more than a commercial for Nike and Durant’s line of shoes. Some unexplained bit of magic causes Durant’s amazing ball talents to be switched with those of a klutzy 16-year-old. The magic is displayed onscreen as crackling, little thunderbolt lines that look as though they were left-over from some low-budget Universal horror movies from the Thirties. Cue all the expected dynamics. The kid (Gray) goes from geek to BMOC; Durant goes from glory to being mocked by Charles Barkley as “turrible.” The NBA clearly threw its all into Thunderstruck: It’s licensed all its imagery and announcers, as well as its top new star. I guess maybe it, too, was worried that the season might never start up again and hedged its bets. Thunderstruck, however, this reviewer is not.