My Super Ex-Girlfriend
I want to illustrate with a simple example what is wrong with "My Super Ex-Girlfriend," a movie whose primary achievement is to always seem like it should be funnier than it is. I was almost on the verge of snickering several times.
When Matt Saunders (Luke Wilson) and Jenny Johnson (Uma Thurman) are first going out, Jenny is hit by a car and knocked about 100 yards in the air. Being that she's really the superhero G-Girl, she gets up unharmed. If this scene were properly written and directed, there'd be a cut to the mystified driver of the totaled car, but there's not. Essentially, the joke is missing its punch line. Jenny and Matt wander off, leaving the joke half developed and the audience realizing they're in for a long night indeed.
This happens consistently in "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" and by the end, it's like being kicked in the back of the head again and again. Between writer Don Payne, who has a history with "The Simpsons," and director Ivan Reitman, who's done films like "Stripes" and "Ghostbusters", I would think that they'd know how to make things funny, but apparently they don't. This is essentially what happens when filmmakers get old; they don't have the energy to do anything right. Truth be told, Ivan Reitman hasn't made a tolerable movie in ages. The last one might have been "Dave" and that was 1993 and that's stretching the meaning of tolerable like the band on John Goodman's underwear. Frankly, I can't even reconcile Payne's work here with his work on "The Simpsons." Apparently this was a script he wrote during coffee or bathroom breaks.
Look at the characters of Vaughn Haige (Rainn Wilson) and Professor Bedlam (Eddie Izzard) for further examples of this film's near-total incompetence. I don't think either generates a laugh throughout the entire film. Compare what Wilson does in "The Office" to what he does here. The quality of his lines here is sad. He tries to play that obnoxious best friend, but virtually every line comes across like it was improvised in a way that suggests Wilson felt put-upon. As for Izzard, he delivers his lines as though he's staving off an LSD flashback. Nothing he says is funny, or interesting. He's like the Mr. Rogers of villains.
Ultimately what dooms this film is its undercurrent of misogyny. As women have gained power in society, they've also gained a certain amount of power in the dating world. The powerful woman is essentially demonized in the form of Jenny, who's super-powerful, but also super-crazy. Apparently, the male reaction to this increased female power is one of two things: pure hatred or pure wussiness. Vaughn despises women. Matt is clueless and willing to prostrate himself at the first hint of bitch slappery. Jenny's overreaction to Matt's desire to escape the relationship is supposed to be funny because she has the power to make his life pure hell with her super powers, but it's really more of a commentary on real life. Specifically, it's about the real women who finds themselves abandoned by simple men who feel threatened by women with the strength to make their own choices in life, especially if they have the temerity to fight back when men reject them.
I like "Super Ex-Girlfriend" only as an ex-movie.
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