July 21, 2006 | Comments ()

By Phillip Stephens | Film | July 21, 2006 |


Straight from a conversation in Mallrats comes the juvenile premise: What would it be like to date a super-heroine? Fortunately, none of us have the wherewithal to bring such a foolish hypothesis to fruition beyond the silly, salacious dialogue found in Kevin Smith’s film. Ivan Reitman, however, thought he had the makings of a good comedy by doing exactly that. The thing is, he probably did.

But the problem with My Super Ex-Girlfriend is that it never really does anything with this premise beyond what’s expected from the cheeky-but-tepid supernatural comedy that Reitman’s done time and time again. In Ghostbusters, Reitman’s hack direction and self-consciously childish story could fall back on a witty cast like Bill Murray and Dan Ackroyd. In Ex-Girlfriend, Reitman again surrounds himself with charming players (in comedic terms): Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard, Anna Faris, Rainn Wilson, and the titular Uma Thurman, one of the few actresses I know who can be both beautiful and manic at the drop of a hat. Sadly, none of these actors appear as more than subdued in MSEG; they’re given nothing to work with beyond the predictable motions of the plot.

Squinty Joe Shmoe, Matt (Wilson, Luke), on the lookout for some hot poon, courts and begins dating uptight Jenny Johnson (Thurman), the alter-ego of superhero G-Girl. He isn’t exactly discouraged when he uncovers her superpowers, but combining them with her neurosis and neediness, things quickly go awry. Further complications arise when spurned “arch-villain” Eddie Izzard and pined-over amour Anna Faris enter the picture. Smiling idiot Rainn Wilson looks on.

The story is as predictable as this kind of disappointing MOR comedy fare goes, but what really is unfortunate is that Reitman doesn’t have the guts to mine the story beyond our expectations, as perhaps Smith might. True, the PG-13 rating hampers many of the prurient assumptions we might have about shagging a woman-of-steel, but the topic is still addressed in a rather half-assed manner. Ex-Girlfriend is better when the breakup actually occurs and Uber-Uma begins making Wilson’s life a living hell: She hurls his car into space, burns “Dick” into his forehead, and throws a shark at him; but even all of this seems unimaginative.

The cast, all fun to watch in different settings, also appear to be going through the motions. Eddie Izzard looks to be on Quaaludes, mumbling his lines as an unconvincing nemesis without any of his usual sardonic energy. Even more galling is Rainn Wilson, whose character fulfills some studio-head’s imaginary expectation that every man has a crass jackass for a best-friend, and he doesn’t even feel remotely real (or funny) in such a deliberately dumb role.

But the pieces of the puzzle, though halfhearted, aren’t enough to make My Super Ex-Girlfriend a terrible movie, just a fairly dull and stupid one. Those looking for the distraction (which is all the film promises to give) will likely find it without noticing its rampant weaknesses. Another week gone by; another mild comedy that doesn’t live up to its potential; another farce that rears its head, only to whimper.

It's Not You, Baby, It's Me

My Super Ex-Girlfriend / Phillip Stephens

Film | July 21, 2006 | Comments ()






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