Melissa McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone, team up in another comedy that won’t have you rolling on the floor laughing, but certain bits will make you laugh out loud. Enjoyable but forgettable.
Director: Ben Falcone
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Sci-fi.
Main Cast: Melissa McCarthy, James Corden, Brian Tyree Henry, Bobby Cannavale.
Runtime: 106 mins.
IMDb rating: 5.2/10.
My rating: 5/10.
Quick summary: Carole Peters is coasting along in life, not living up to her full potential after a damaging breakup. She is chosen by a super artifical intelligence to test it’s theories on mankind. What those theories are, we don’t know, but Carol has only three days to show this super computer what humanity is all about and save the world.
Melissa McCarthy plays Carole Peters, a digital strategist living in Seattle. She is seen by those around her as a completely average person, coasting along after a tough breakup with George (Bobby Cannavale) two years previously. After a disastrous job interview, Carole is chosen by a super A.I. (James Corden) to be his subject in the study of humanity. Over the course of three days Carole must show the superintelligence all the things that make humanity worth saving as he (I suppose Artificial Intelligence are genderless, but as James Corden lends his voice to this role I’m going to say ‘he’) decides whether or not to save, enslave or destroy all humankind.
Superintelligence is not as bad as people may say it is. I was asked what was wrong with me as I purchased a ticket for this movie (Don’t worry, I didn’t go to the rudest cinema on earth, I used to work there and know the manager). I was asking myself the same question during the opening ten minutes. The opening scene in which we are introduced to Carole are awkward and the pacing is very mixed. Carole is telling her friend Dennis (Brian Tyree Henry) how she is not going to an interview with a former college friend and maintaining that she is fine after her breakup from George. The very next scene she is at the interview. It is a small thing that doesn’t matter but also doesn’t make any sense. This continues for a while with the script full of jokes, as if the director is trying to bombard us with laughs to distract from the weaknesses of the film.
Luckily, once the superintelligence enters the film there is a bit of direction. The story moves along more swiftly, allowing McCarthy a lot of time to provide physical humour and put her unique spin on lines that would sound flat coming out of other actors.
There is a brilliant chemistry between McCarthy and Cannavale. It is probably not a pairing many would make, but the two seem perfect for each other here. Cannavale does try his hand, and should lose his hand because of the terrible attempt, at an Irish accent as his character is preparing to spend a year in Ireland, unaware of the impending A.I. doom. Despite this, he is funny throughout. His relationship with Carole does tug on the heartstrings at times, lending some emotion and gravitas to an otherwise silly movie.
That is the reason why this movie is as average as the main character. It is split into three different genres (Comedy, Romance and Sci-fi) and instead of focusing on two it spreads its harvest bare over three unyielding fields. While the movie is enjoyable it is very forgettable. None of the jokes are funny enough to stick in the mind a few days after watching; the relationship between Carole and George is probably the best part of the movie but seems an afterthought; and the sci-fi element is too weak and unbelievable to make anyone really care about this movie.
Superintelligence would have worked brilliantly as a sci-fi comedy or even just as a rom-com about Carole and George dealing with reconciliation and losing each other all over again. Hell, you could even throw in a superbenevolent A.I. that is just trying to help Carole for some reason. When you make all three prongs on the spork as important as each other though, something loses out. This time, like always, it’s the viewer.
McCarthy and Falcone have teamed up on a few so-so comedies over the last few years. Life of the Party was not critically praised and is more of a hangover film for me at least. Tammy and The Boss are two films which I have personally not sat through, although I feel like they fall into the same category as Life of the Party. I’ll either watch them when there’s nothing else on or if I’m dying hungover on the couch and need a few cheap laughs to make me feel like all is O.K. again. Superintelligence now joins these films in that rank.
I personally think that McCarthy had her best performance in Spy (2015). Everything since has been a bit of a disappointment for me, in her comedy roles that is. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2019), which I reviewed last year, was a very good film, showing the film star’s serious talents. Comedy-wise she is still searching for another hit and I think she may have to work with directors other than her husband to do so.
In saying that, Superintelligence isn’t a bad movie. It is enjoyable and anything that provides us laughs in these tough times is worthwhile in my opinion. Check it out at your local cinema now!