At the end of a blockbuster summer culminating in a strong showing at the NBA Finals and a record-breaking gold medal win at the Summer Olympics in London, Thunder superstar Kevin Durant tries his hand at big-screen domination with “Thunderstruck.” Opening Friday, Durant's cinematic tip-off includes plenty of scenes that will score with local audiences.
Chesapeake Energy Arena appears in the first five minutes of “Thunderstruck” as the Thunder punishes the Detroit Pistons and 14-year-old Brian Newall (Taylor Gray) wins a chance to sink a half-court free throw. The event, which actively involves Thunder mascot Rumble, leads to the pivotal exchange of talent and ability between Brian, a towel-boy for the fictional Eastview High School Eagles, and Durant. Throughout “Thunderstruck,” Durant projects the soft-spoken, humble and good-natured personality that comes through in postgame interviews and public appearances.
Much of “Thunderstruck” was shot in Baton Rouge, La., including some scenes in which LSU's Pete Maravich Assembly Center doubles for the Chesapeake Energy Arena, but several Oklahoma City locations and a few personalities show up in the background. The establishing shot of Oklahoma City's skyline during the Thunder-Pistons game serves as a time capsule — the westward shot from Thunder Alley shows Devon Tower with the top 10 floors still visibly under construction. Automobile Alley landmarks such as Schlegel Bicycles appear in background shots, and a climactic scene shows Brian riding his bike over the Dr. G.E. Finley Bridge on Walnut Avenue in Bricktown.
The most notable local flavor in “Thunderstruck” comes when local personalities make cameo appearances. KFOR-TV Channel 4's Kevin Ogle, Linda Cavanaugh and Bob Barry Jr. appear in an on-camera segment discussing Durant's reversal of fortune. However, the most memorable cameo belongs to Wanda Pratt, Durant's mother. Her brief performance, full of energy and warmth, steals the show from Durant, and there is a good chance that the Thunder forward did not mind it a bit.