By Christian DiMartino
Melissa McCarthy is great. What’s frustrating though is that the majority of her movies aren’t, and with that, she gets pulled down with them, even though she, and we, know she’s above them. For years, I have rushed to her defense, because of whenever she excels. She was great in Bridesmaids, where she not only stole the show, but became a star, and an Oscar nominee. She also works in movies like Spy, The Heat, and her brilliant work in Can You Ever Forgive Me? was among the best performances of that year. Yet with movies like Superintelligence, it just further pokes another hole in my defense.
Man, is this movie dull. Here is a comedy dead-zone that begins kind of interesting, but not particularly funny, then it tries other things that aren’t interesting, nor funny, and then it just keeps going. This is not the worst movie I have seen, but it is one of her worst outings yet. It’s as if the film had the idea, and then they decided it was going to be funny, except they never really inserted the humor. So it’s just this festival of dull that refuses to end, and it’s even crazier that it’s under two hours.
It also doesn’t help that McCarthy is totally restrained here. Well, so is everything else, but McCarthy showing restraint is particularly interesting because the lack of restraint is what shot her to stardom in the first place. Make no mistake, there is nothing wrong with giving her something new to do- not every role she takes should require her to spout “motherf**ker” in every sentence. Here though, she’s been stripped of any sort of interesting quality. In fact, the movie is aware bland averageness of this character, yet unlike, say, Luke Wilson in Idiocracy, she is not only given nothing to do, but she isn’t given anything interesting to do either.
McCarthy plays Carol, an average former computer whiz or something who is chosen by an A.I. because she is just so damn normal. Seriously, they about say that. The A.I. essentially follows her every move and appears in all of her appliances, and the reason behind the appearance of the A.I. is because it isn’t sure if it wants to destroy, sacrifice, or save the world, and is leaving it up to this average woman to plea on behalf of civilization. Seems like it could be an interesting premise, and perhaps there was humor to mine from this material. Yet they never do, and the story takes a complete boring turn with the introduction of a former boyfriend played by Bobby Cannevale, whose appearance reminds us of the much better McCarthy vehicle we should be watching, Spy.
One annoying aspect of this film is that we want to shake it awake, because it never really comes alive. Another annoying aspect is the fact that it’s filled to the brim with pop culture references that the film either thinks we are too stupid to understand, or really just feels the need to tell us about anyways. Yet there is one aspect, above all, that irked me the most about Superintelligence, and perhaps it is an unfair one.
Said A.I. is voiced by James Corden. It is acknowledged early on that this is voiced by Corden because apparently his voice is very soothing to Carol. Carol is a huge James Corden fan. So is Cannevale, apparently, which is something that brings them closer together. So is everyone else, apparently. This is, indeed, a very nice role for James Corden, who is perhaps a very nice man. Here is the thing though: I hate him. I am not sure what it is, but everything about him gets on my nerves. His voice, his personality, all of it, and once you realize that you’re not only watching a movie about as dull as… well, James Corden, but you’re also stuck with James Corden’s voice, AND a film set in a universe that seems to be in love with James Corden, let me just say, it is a tough sit.
This is a tough 105 minutes to sit through. It is time for McCarthy to find a role that is worthy of her, and to stop letting her husband direct her. Yes, the film is directed by Ben Falcone, McCarthy’s husband and he’s usually present in a lot of her movies. He’s also directed some of her worst too, such as The Boss and Tammy. This is easily the worst of their collaborations though. McCarthy is a two time Oscar nominee who deserves better than this, which is a film that tries to be too much, and also tries too little, until it just sits there and goes through the motions.
Superintelligence. Ah, the irony.