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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.