- NBA post-game show host Ernie Johnson: "So what is wrong with Kevin Durant?"
- Charles Barkley: "Well, I can't tell you what's wrong, but I can tell you what he's doing right... nothing. He's turrible."
16-year-old Brian Newall's reach very much exceeds his grasp, but maybe poet Robert Browning shouldn't have been so smug with that line. Brian's one big aspiration has brought him nothing but grief. His idol is Kevin Durant, that lanky superstar forward on the Oklahoma City Thunder. And so there's Brian (Taylor Gray) on the driveway, emulating No. 35's silky smooth moves, and the poor klutz just ends up hurting himself always. Plenty of Brian's basketball, um, exploits have been cruelly documented on camera and, hence, on YouTube. Kid is the laughingstock of Eastview High, OKC. He's on the school's basketball squad, but only as the team manager (re: towel boy).
Thunderstruck is no classic, but, boy, is it watchable. It's family-friendly fare (I do note the words "crap" and "piss off" are discharged once each). Kevin Durant, a very humble cat, had to be talked into going Hollywood. And while he won't be taking food off other actors' tables with his emoting skills, he generates a very likeable presence. I know these are differently toned movies, but I find him more naturally sympathetic than Shaq in [[ASIN:B00AEFXJY0 Blue Chips]] or Ray Allen in [[ASIN:630514415X He Got Game]] or Michael Jordan in [[ASIN:B004GJYROG Space Jam]].
What's taken from real life is how much of a good dude Durant is. I can totally see him feeling sorry for a young fan what just humiliated himself trying to sink a half-court shot during intermission. Durant signs a commemorative Thunder basketball and forks it over to Brian Newall. Brian wishes out loud that he had Durant's talent, and, in these kinds of movies, a wish errantly made carries significant power.
Cue the next morning comin' as the film proceeds to chart the utter collapse of Kevin Durant's game. No. 35 suddenly cannot make buckets, can't spin or cut or cross over or dunk worth a lick. It's neat that we could readily believe that Durant's persistence and work ethic are such that, even experiencing a horrific slump, he's still putting in endless hours in the gym trying to fix what ails him. Only, now, the Oklahoma City Thunder are in jeopardy of not making the playoffs.
Conversely, that same morning's brought about a drastic change in Brian. Come to find, he's abruptly got sweet handles and massive hops and an unerring jumper. He hopes his newfound skills and his immediate superstar status on Eastview's basketball team can attract that new girl from Denver, Isabel Sanchez, (Tristin Mays). Only, Mays brings such a level-headed vibe to the role, I wanted to counsel Brian that she don't play that, son. Mays reminds me of Varsity Blues' Amy Smart in how supremely unbowled over she is when her star athlete beau devolves into an ego-trippin' jackhole. So, yes, Thunderstruck heavily borrows from [[ASIN:B00005JMCW Freaky Friday]] AND from [[ASIN:B00AEBB9UU Varsity Blues]] and [[ASIN:B000068TPB Teen Wolf & Teen Wolf Too]].
There were outbreaks of laughter and impromptu cheering in my household when we watched this. Thunderstruck is good-natured and pretty funny, especially if you're plugged into the hoops universe and you're familiar with Kevin Durant. And because it's also that kind of movie, life lessons are imparted. Kid viewers will learn about the value of friendship and team work and working hard and persevering even though the odds are overwhelming, and, also, that you don't ever mess with WNBA star Candace Parker's money (that's a funny scene).
But the single funniest scene in the film? For me, it's the shoe commercial sequence.
Kevin Durant may not be an acting prodigy but he's bolstered by a solid supporting cast. Jim Belushi hijacks plenty of scenes as Eastview High's blowhard basketball coach who claims he was once was a, no lie, "Henry Ford Community College Honorable Mention All-Conference Guard." It's humble brags like that from Belushi that made me grin big. Props as well to his son, Robert Belushi, who is great as his oddball assistant coach Dan. And, yeah, that's Durant's real-life mom, Wanda Pratt, who has an amusing cameo as onscreen Durant's mom.
No surprise that Taylor Gray is more sympathetic when he was this clumsy, bullied loser. He becomes less likeable when, like Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf and James Van Der Beek in Varsity Blues, he lets newfound fame get to his head. So what Gray does here is nothing new. It's so key that he's convincing as a basketball phenom. He had to be able to mimic Durant's signature moves - like the "Counter 62" or the "KD 35 Live Special" - and he sells it on camera. Taylor Gray has got mad handles. So let him and No. 35 coax laughter out of you for an hour and a half. Kevin Durant as a hapless underdog? Who woulda thunk it?
The DVD's bonus stuff:
- "KD's Klinic" - Behind the Scenes peek at the movie (00:05:24 minutes)
- "Coach Z" - featurette on Jim Belushi's character (00:03:19)
- 4 Deleted Scenes (00:04:36)