Superintelligence Nov 29, 2020 14:20:03 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Nov 29, 2020 14:20:03 GMT -5
Directed by: Ben Falcone
Directed by: Ben Falcone
Bobby Cannavale and Melissa McCarthy.
Superintelligence is intelligence in name only. It's another utterly loathsome effort from Ben Falcone, who continues to show a bizarre infatuation with having his wife, Melissa McCarthy, play pathetic characters in hair-brained comedies. Beyond the deceptively simple yet convoluted concept, it boasts an array of jokes that demand we laugh-at-not-with the characters, which is rarely fun. Save for some curious soundtrack choices (The Chordettes and Connie Francis, anyone?), this is embarrassing.
Before we discuss Superintelligence, we need to discuss the curious directorial career of Ben Falcone. This makes his fourth feature with McCarthy in a starring role, and all are among her worst. From Tammy to Life of the Party, and now Superintelligence, Falcone seems to love placing his wife front-and-center in low-grade concept comedies where she's played an unstable fast food worker and a divorcee longing to relive her college years. Let it be stated that neither of those archetypes are inherently wrong-headed, but Falcone's desire to turn his wife into brash, unfunny caricatures begs an explanation of some kind. McCarthy has too much ability to be slumming her craft with so many creative misfires.
While McCarthy's Carol is far from her most offensive character, it's likely her most bland. She's an unremarkably average individual who dreams of doing good in the world but can't get out of her own way since stepping down from an executive position at Yahoo. That is until a computer program achieves unfathomable awareness and becomes something known as "Superintelligence," selecting Carol as the one to teach it about humanity because of her perennial averageness.
Being that this AI has the option of saving humanity from itself or obliterating it completely, a lot of pressure is on Carol to prove human beings are worthy of preserving. To downplay its ominous voice, it assumes the cadence of James Corden, Carol's favorite celebrity, to calm and reassure her — one of the many jokes screenwriter Steve Mallory (who wrote Falcone's other feature, The Boss) overplays. Moreover, Superintelligence helps Carol in getting a makeover, a palatial penthouse, a Tesla, and a two-billion-dollar foundation in her name (a plot-point forgotten once it's established). Wanting to see how Carol reacts to a vulnerable situation, it encourages her to mend things with her ex George (Bobby Cannavale), a literature professor who is mere days away from flying off to a new life in Ireland.
There's also the looming threat of FBI agents (Falcone, Sam Richardson) attempting to put a stop to Superintelligence and its unparalleled societal control as the threat of a global collapse lingers. Oddly enough, Falcone and Richardson provide one of the film's lone amusing moments as they stalk Carol after her date with George and make coy commentary from a house across the street. The banter feels improvised and it actually shows the comic timing of both men.
That's about where my praise for Superintelligence comes to a screeching halt. The concept is such a glutton on the plot that the film exhausts itself in trying to explain the complexities of the titular AI, and it does so much to improve Carol's life in a short amount of time that Mallory isn't able to keep up with the many ideas. With a plot device that can do anything and everything, Superintelligence feels frustratingly conflict free, and overly nice characters make the overall experience a mostly joyless slog.
Yet the film's biggest issues stem from the fatal flaw that will cripple any comedy: it's just not very funny. We've seen McCarthy be the butt of the jokes in too many comedies. After seeing her capabilities in dramatic ventures such as Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and even comedies like The Heat and Identity Thief (while Bridesmaids is little more than a fleeting memory at this point), it's getting tiresome to see her person and personality be assaulted through shameful writing that turns her into a pathetic nobody.
NOTE: Superintelligence is now available to stream on HBO Max.
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Bobby Cannavale, Brian Tyree Henry, Ben Falcone, Sam Richardson, and Jane Sweat. Voiced by: James Corden. Directed by: Ben Falcone.