Comedy star Melissa McCarthy’s latest collaboration with her husband/director Ben Falcone, the superhero comedy Thunder Force, may have received mostly poor reviews, but their next movie Margie Claus has a good chance of turning this streak of bad reception around. The recently-released superhero spoof Thunder Force, co-starring Ma‘s Octavia Spencer, sees Bridesmaids breakout star and Gilmore Girls scene-stealer Melissa McCarthy play a likable slacker who becomes a crimefighter after accidentally receiving superpowers
If that origin story sounds familiar, that familiarity could be part of what earned Thunder Force a slew of negative reviews upon release. Thunder Force arrives at a time when everything from The Boys to Birdgirl is spoofing superheroes with varying degrees of silliness and sharpness due to the current cultural ubiquity of spandex-clad crimefighters. As a result of this crowded field of competitors, the fifth collaboration between married actor/director team Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone has once again earned the pair poor critical write-ups.
Beginning with the Susan Sarandon-co-starring Tammy in 2014, McCarthy and Falcone’s five collaborations have thus far all received varying levels of negative critical reception. Tammy was slated, 2016’s The Boss was equally derided, college comedy Life of the Party earned McCarthy marginally less brutal reviews two years later, and last year’s Superintelligence, a more modest rom-com, was deemed “forgettable” but at least comparatively inoffensive according to critical consensus. However, that slight upward trend was undone by the drubbing received by Thunder Force, making it seems unlikely that the pair will ever produce a well-liked movie collaboration. However, if any movie can see McCarthy and Falcone win back the crowd, their next movie Margie Claus is a great contender.
A Christmas musical, Margie Clause tells the tale of Santa’s titular wife who must save Christmas from a sure disaster when her more famous husband goes missing. Margie Claus is guaranteed a kinder reception as the holiday season reliably sees movies (particularly warm-hearted family comedies) fare better with critics. There is always more of a goodwill bump around Christmas and the subsequent movies surrounding it, something that Falcone/McCarthy properties really could do with to win over viewers and reviewers alike. The fact that Margie Claus is a musical, meanwhile, hints at a more ambitious brand of comedy than the uninspired Thunder Force and could take McCarthy away from the action-comedy sub-genre that hasn’t been doing her career any critical favors in recent years.
While 2015’s Spy received a stellar critical reception, McCarthy’s other forays into action-comedy haven’t been as lucky with critics. Thunder Force is just the most recent in a string of action-comedy hybrids ranging from The Happytime Murders to The Heat, to Identity Thief, to the soon-to-be re-rebooted Ghostbusters, that all saw McCarthy receive less-than-positive reviews. The addition of a musical element to Margie Claus, combined with the general critical goodwill enjoyed by most Yuletide-themed movies, could be enough to shake McCarthy and Falcone out of this persistent critical funk and improve their reception with critics after Thunder Force failed to land them a hit.