Uma Thurman, Luke Wilson, Anna Faris, Rainn Wilson, Eddie Izzard
20th Century Fox
Hmmmm. This is weird.
I don't know what to make of it. I'm sitting here at my computer, having just seen Ivan Reitman's 'My Super Ex-Girlfriend," and I'm completely dumbfounded.
I'm nearly at a loss for words to explain it.
What can I say?
In what is an almost painfully unfunny film, Anna Faris (Yes, THAT Anna Faris from the "Scary Movie" flicks) is not only the highlight of the film, but she displays a previously unseen depth, complexity and presence that, quite honestly, had me not even realizing it was Faris.
Wow, that came out of left field and sure caught me by surprise.
Sadly, the rest of "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" is a lifeless, predictable and bland film based on a marvelously inventive premise. Director Ivan Reitman and screenwriter Don Payne had to work overtime to ruin this film, and they very nearly succeeded in doing so.
In the film, Matt Saunders (Luke Wilson) "rescues" Jenny Johnson (Uma Thurman) from a mugger...they date, but she's a bit too neurotic, needy and emotional. She reveals herself, because she's in love (Apparently good judgment skills are not included in the "Superhero" package), to be a "G-Girl," a superhero in NYC. His best friend (Rainn Wilson) teaches him how to break up once he finally realizes he really has a crush on Hannah, a beautiful and sweet co-worker (The aforementioned Faris). In the meantime, G-Girl's arch-nemesis Professor Bedlam (Eddie Izzard) seeks to destroy G-Girl!
What's a neurotic Superhero to do?
"My Super Ex-Girlfriend" feels like bits and pieces of just about every corny superhero film ever made...there's the cornball heroics of "Mystery Men," the everyday hijinks of "Blankman" and even an ending that brings back the corny, sappy ending in "Little Nicky."
Oh my, what's an audience to do?
"My Super Ex-Girlfriend" was one of my most anticipated films for this Summer, blessed with a trailer that felt original, seemed funny and offered a premise that has never been successfully pulled off on the big screen...that of a remarkably flawed, hilariously human superhero.
Hmmm. Maybe there's a reason this storyline hasn't been pulled off...maybe, just maybe, it doesn't work.
In a year when his son Jason has offered us the insightful, biting and hilarious "Thank You for Smoking," Ivan Reitman seems clueless about how to make "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" the funny, entertaining film it's screaming out to be.
The basic problem likes in the rather remarkable miscasting of Luke Wilson as "Matt Saunders." Luke, much like his brother Owen, has this sort of "aw shucks" charm about him that works remarkably well in certain roles...in the wrong role, however, the approach feels lifeless, distant and, more importantly here, saps energy from others on screen with him. In this case, an attraction between him and Jenny feels so completely unbelievable that by the time we get a break-up the retribution that Jenny throws at him feels more mean-spirited than funny.
Wilson's performance, in fact, feels a lot like his brother's in last week's unfunny film, "You, Me and Dupree." In that film, as well, poor chemistry between the leads resulted in a film that fell remarkably flat far too often.
In this film, gags that are meant to elicit roaring laughter result in mere chuckles. Scenes that are meant to be cute and sweet are, in reality, insincere and uncomfortable.
As Jenny/G-Girl, Uma Thurman certainly throws herself into the role with energy and gusto. At times, she gives more than she gets from Payne's script. Payne, a veteran writer for "The Simpsons," takes a remarkably promising premise and literally saps all the life from it. It's not unusual for a film-maker to throw all their funny moments into a film's trailer...what's unusual is for the scenes that are funny in a trailer to be completely unfunny when shown within the context of the entire film.
Wow, that hurts to even think about it.
Rainn Wilson is given almost nothing to do as Matt's best friend, and Izzard is given no freedom to brings his brilliant comic self to life. He's the worst kind of supervillain...he isn't particularly evil and he's never remarkably exciting.
Wanda Sykes was funnier in her two-minute bit in "Clerks II" than in this manipulative, histrionic and forced role as Matt and Hannah's boss. Her first comment about sexual harassment? Cute and a little funny. Her fourth? Oh please.
Second only to Faris in "My Super Ex-Girlfriend," it's important to note that the shark seen in the film's trailers is, in fact, reasonably entertaining and actually more talented than the shark from "Jaws: The Revenge."
With a different leading man, odds are "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" would have worked. With Thurman's energy, Faris's sweet and winning performance and a production design that is both cheesy and yet remarkably appropriate for the film's overall mood, "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" is an average comedy crying out to be a great one.
If you've ever questioned the importance of having just the right actor, director or writer then "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" is exhibit A for you to consider. Behind a lackluster performance from Luke Wilson, lifeless direction from Ivan Reitman and the remarkably bland and disorganized script of Don Payne, "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" is to film-making what kryptonite is to Superman.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic