This review of Always Sunny contains spoilers.
Always Sunny Season 14 Episode 2
In 2019, a lot of big-budget Hollywood movies try to be all things for all people, and end up failing everyone in the process. Is this because of the pervasive liberal P.C. agenda in Hollywood? A desire to prop up new voices and reflect the diversity of our communities in our art? Or is it conservative pearl-clutching that demands our entertainment be palatable, with any rough edges smoothed off? Nah, it’s probably because of money.
In the latest episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “Thunder Gun 4: Maximum Cool,” the gang are invited to attend a focus group screening of the latest film in their beloved Thunder Gun film franchise. Ready to “tear into this experience,” something that I say every time I review something (kidding), the gang exit the theater and enter a conference room to discuss the film, ready to bemoan all of the changes. Well, Charlie would bemoan the changes if he could understand anything that’s happening on the screen (he was under the impression that “Focus Group” was the name of the movie.)
Despite featuring Den of Geek favorite Dolph Lundgren, the gang find a ton of issues with Thunder Gun 4, that of course correspond to their own personality defects. Mac doesn’t like the villain because he’s not different enough from him, and he prefers to hate people that he can’t understand or relate to. Dee is upset that a female character is driving the story, because she feels threatened by her. In fact, Dee prefers the old Thunder Gun approach to female characters, “bed ‘em and dead ‘em.” Dennis, and the gang as a whole, are mostly upset though that Johnny Thunder Gun doesn’t “hang any dong.” The focus group moderator is perplexed by why they’re so upset by the absence of a flaccid penis, but in the gang’s warped view, the dong represents tradition, and the excising of it is just a product of liberal P.C. bullshit run amok.
Dennis actually puts together a thought-provoking speech about how the current moralizing on the left (like the conversation happening around Joker) is akin to the conservative pearl-clutching of folks like Tipper Gore in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, and how art is suffering due to this P.C. policing, but there’s no moral virtue signaling happening by the Thunder Gun producers. They’re making a PG-13 installment of their franchise because R-rated movies are suffering at the box office, with most people pirating movies or choosing to stream something at home instead. In an effort to make their movie “an event,” they’ve aimed to make the film appeal to more people, so it’ll have the chance at making money. It’s a nice shift by the Sunny writers that focuses on a problem that is way more of an existential threat to movie making than some fictitious liberal agenda. They also cleverly end the episode with a montage that shows how these franchise moves play out, complete with whiny fan outrage and a back-to-basics reboot.
Like some of the best episodes of Always Sunny, “Thunder Gun 4: Maximum Cool” sticks the gang in a room together and plays them opposite of a normal person who’s forced to try and understand their insane trains of thought and behaviors. Plus, the ending of the episode gives us the classic “they’ve learned nothing” ending, where the gang opt to illegally stream the latest Thunder Gun movie from Dennis’ phone. Mac even suggests that they turn on “auto motion plus,” which is an entirely different kind of threat to filmmakers. This episode of Sunny is memorable because it actually has something to say about the film industry, and also, because of the dong. Don’t forget the dong.
Nick Harley is a tortured Cleveland sports fan, thinks Douglas Sirk would have made a killer Batman movie, Spider-Man should be a big-budget HBO series, and Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson should direct a script written by one another. For more thoughts like these, read Nick’s work here at Den of Geek or follow him on Twitter.