How Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman buttered up Thunder Force with crab sex
Thunder Force (2021 Movie)
Warning! Light spoilers for the new Netflix movie Thunder Force ahead.
Yes, peppered throughout writer-director Ben Falcone's new superhero comedy about a pair of crime-fighting pals (Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer) fighting to save Chicago from unnaturally powerful villains is a tantalizing Identity Thief reunion between McCarthy and Jason Bateman that culminates in a gut-busting scene of crustacean intimacy — and it goes down smoother than melted butter on a Dungeness claw.
"Jason is one of my best friends, and Melissa's too. Our families are close! [It wasn't] like a, 'Watch it!' thing, it was just fun!" Falcone tells EW of devising the bonkers scene, which sees his on-screen partner and real-life spouse blurring the lines between ethical hero and horny human when her character, Lydia, falls for Bateman's half-man, half-crab henchman.
"I say this out of love: He's so effortlessly gross! He can get away with anything. I lovingly call him 'The Robot' because I think he's more robot than man. He's able to say things that, if I said them, it'd be like, who's this murder guy? He says them and everybody is like, 'Jason, you're hilarious!'" Falcone explains of prep for the scene, which the trio shot over the course of a day (with plenty of Old Bay) using his script as a foundation with plenty of room for impromptu exploration. "They improvised a bunch. Jason improvised some things and Melissa improvised the very end!"
The idea for Bateman's conflicted character, who gazes longingly at McCarthy while fulfilling his duties as the right-hand man to Bobby Cannavale's villainous politician known as The King, was born from Falcone's love for conflicted characters that often pop up in comic books and their big-screen adaptations.
Falcone calls the scene, structurally, "one of the weirdest things" he's ever done, given that it jerks the action-heavy plot in a more tender (yet nonetheless comical) direction just before the classical climax of his superhero yarn. But, it works because it boils the characters down beyond the flesh.
"The most interesting characters are villains with a plan or with needs, but there are people kind of hanging around. Who are the kids hanging around with the bullies, and why? That was my take on The Crab," he says. "He's not a bad guy, but he fell in with the wrong crowd, partly because he's half-crab, and he's probably not accepted anywhere. I thought, you know who'd love him? Lydia! Because she's not accepted anywhere. They're kindred souls."
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