It’s Always Sunny season 14, episode 2 recap: Thunder Gun 4: Maximum Cool


In episode 142 of FX series It’s Always Sunny, the gang acts as a focus group for an action movie, and we see the pitfalls of online piracy.

After tackling rom-com tropes in the season 14 premiere, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia sets its sights on action films. Charlie (Charlie Day), Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Mac (Rob McElhenney), Dee (Kaitlin Olson) and Frank (Danny DeVito) actually sit in a focus group. Of course, their moderator (Jessy Hodges) doesn’t really know what she’s in for with these people. She does find out fairly quick, though.

An early hint is when Dennis says he’s a “prolific filmmaker.” telling her that he’d “get a performance out of” her (Dennis has a history of recording dalliances with women, whether they know about it or not). Their movie is “Thunder Gun 4: Maximum Cool.” Although they know and love the franchise, the current film falls short of their expectations.

The film features John Thundergun (Dolph Lundgren) as a shadow of his former self. We only get vague ideas of the plot but know it features characters like Dr. Ling (Emily C. Chang), her assistant, Max (Carlin James), and a thieving villain named Colonel Washington (Kirk Bovill). The gang notes how, in other action films like Rocky and Die Hard, the villains are often “black guys” or foreigners (such as Eastern Europeans), and they’re not used to seeing American villains in this franchise.

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They go through their perceived roster of villainous traits by country of origin. They conclude that Australians could be villains because they are “rapscallions,” concluding that the French are not scary. Dee complains about the new women in this sequel, saying she prefers the way women were treated previously (though the moderator claims they were mere plot devices or “sex trophies”).

Opinions…everyone’s got one

It’s Always Sunny reminds us why so many Hollywood movies are often kept simple, comfortable and easy to understand.  Formulas work, don’t they?  The gang doesn’t like that Max is the son of Thunder Gun and Dr. Ling, emphasizing that he’s too cool to be involved in all that. Additionally, they don’t like how there’s no sex scene in “Thunder Gun 4,” and John doesn’t do any full-frontal nudity.

Frank laments how they’re taking sex out of the movies, adding that he misses the sense of “community” in porn theaters. In fact, everyone’s outraged that this “Thunder Gun” has a PG-13 rating, which they call “liberal PC bulls***.” In addition to wanting to “save the dong,” Mac says “You can’t give women the zingers” (the gang has a longstanding history of dismissing female comedians, and often disregard Dee’s opinions, even when she’s agreeing with them).

Is the gang totally wrong?

It’s Always Sunny is often interesting because, despite how wrong the gang usually is, there’s often at least a vague element of truth to some of their reasoning. They shouldn’t dismiss the moderator as a “Hollywood communist” as they do, and this hypothetical film would hardly equal “oppression disguised as morality.” However, they do mention how, back in the day, conservatives were arguably more prudish when it came to sexuality and language in films and TV, whereas now it appears that “liberals” dominate in this regard. There is a case to be made that this is currently true.

However, there’s an irony in having a whiny focus group pick apart a movie while complaining about a “moral PC elite.” Isn’t a focus group sort of a literal cultural vanguard, or an attempt to swerve content away from anything that their particular tastes wouldn’t like? One can complain all day about language policing and have a valid point, but quite often both sides of the political aisle have their versions of political correctness or lines that simply shouldn’t be crossed or blurred. The moderator also reminds them that, rather than it being a moral decision, “Thunder Gun 4”  is PG-13 because R-Rated films aren’t making as much money anymore.

Piracy and Thundergun’s legacy

In addition to examining action films and focus groups, It’s Always Sunny notes the slippery slope of online piracy. While no one wants to pay for things, it would be hard to have entertainment if everybody illegally downloaded/streamed everything. Here the gang openly advocates piracy, noting that they’ve seen other “Thunder Gun” films on “” and “” Now, if TV shows and movies didn’t cost anything to make, this sort of thing wouldn’t matter. However, until that day arrives (or people stop watching stuff altogether), it simply makes sense for people to chip in here and there.

This is even more true for those who are passionate about what they watch. The gang definitely is. With Thundergun rebooted, John literally passes the torch to his son, which the gang hates. In fact, John Thundergun actually falls into a volcano, meaning future installments will logically need to follow Max. However, they condemn this premise, saying that they “are” Thundergun. Ultimately we see that Frank recorded the whole film and it gets leaked and undermined anyway!  Also, a new version is made due to their objections, which they also pirate-watch.

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This may not be the gang at their worst, but it does wag a finger at those who relentlessly demand quality their way while not even paying for beloved franchises. One may not agree with copyright laws per se to meet this premise halfway, and that’s the ugly beauty of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

What are your thoughts on this episode of It’s Always Sunny?  Let us know in the comments!