Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Thunder Force heroes Octavia Spencer and Melissa McCarthy really enjoy super-messing with Jason Bateman

Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer
Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer
Screenshot: Jimmy Kimmel Live

There are few things in the often disillusioning world of Hollywood more pure and restorative than the real-life, decades-long friendship of Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer. Appearing very remotely on Thursday’s Jimmy Kimmel Live (McCarthy’s been in COVID-free Australia for nine months), the duo shared some intimately goofy details of their life as Los Angeles neighbors. Think pecan fights, McCarthy’s parents apparently preferring to visit Spencer when they’re in town, and socially distanced driveway hang seshes involving Spencer’s signature cocktail in to-go cups. (According to McCarthy, Spencer—and only Spencer—enjoys a faux sangria involving cheap red wine, diet cola, seltzer, and whatever fruit is lying around, and it’s called O.T., which she says stands for “Octavia, timber!”)

But it’s not all happy home hijinks between two old pals—sometimes, McCarthy and Spencer’s fun involves screwing with each other in ways only available to major movie stars with access to form-fitting super-suits and an inconveniently snug Lamborghini. Kimmel showed a clip of the time McCarthy got the crew on the pair’s new Netflix superhero comedy Thunder Force to essentially trap the spandex-clad Spencer in one of those ridiculously expensive and tight-quartered luxury vehicles. Still, Spencer enjoys a good gag, especially when it comes to gluing uncomfortably ridiculous crab arms onto other famous friend/frenemy and McCarthy’s former Identity Thief costar, Jason Bateman. Such is Bateman’s fate in Thunder Force, the Spencer-McCarthy super-vehicle where Bateman’s supervillain name is The Crab, for exactly the reason you’d think. Written by McCarthy’s husband and other partner in messing-with-Bateman, Ben Falcone, Thunder Force went through various rewrites, with Falcone and McCarthy absolutely certain that each call from the Netflix brass would include the note to ditch the crab claws. The call never came, and thus Falcone’s initial inspiration—described by McCarthy as, “[Snorting laugh] I’m gonna make Bateman wear big crab arms”—will come to life next Friday on Netflix.

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As to McCarthy and Spencer’s entry into the lucrative world of big screen (well, streaming screen) superhero flicks, the pair are excited to show off their super-suited moves. Sure, in the clip, the invisible (well, more like translucent) Spencer and erratically high-jumping McCarthy’s heroes don’t so much foil as baffle some convenience store robbers (including Bateman’s The Crab and Falcone, who appears to have normal arms). Still, they went through all the standard, deeply embarrassing motion capture body-mapping process all super-types must endure, with McCarthy’s self-proclaimed technology jinxing powers forcing the stalwart Q types at noted movie hero outfitters Ironhead Studio to abandon their suddenly malfunctioning automatic cameras in favor of a full half hour of laborious hand-snapping. All while, as McCarthy noted, she was “nude-Capezio” in preparation for her digital fitting. Nobody said taking down The Crab was going to be easy. Thunder Force premieres on Netflix on April 9.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.