Sunday, July 23, 2006

My Super Ex-Girlfriend

Director: Ivan Reitman
Written by Don Payne

High-concept comedies rarely work because the concept usually overwhelms the proceedings and it becomes decidedly one-note, so is the case with Ivan Reitman's new comedy, written by "Simpsons" writer/producer Don Payne. Reitman proved that it could be done, long ago, 22 years ago in fact, with Ghostbusters. That movie wasn't just about ghosts and those crazy things they do, it was also about people struggling to open their first place of business, and it also had some comic geniuses onscreen, which didn't hurt.

So now, the American public is supposed to swallow that Luke Wilson and Uma Thurman are comic geniuses, while real ones like Anna Faris and Rainn Wilson get saddled with the secondary roles. Luke, like brother Owen, has one character he always plays and it suits him, but unlike Owen, he's usually the straight man--your typical thankless role, and his range is stretched thinner than even his brother's because of it.

In this, Matt Saunders (Luke Wilson) meets Jenny Johnson (Thurman) and though she's very pretty and smart, is rather psychotic when it comes to relationships. Just before the Fatal Attraction stuff happens, though, there's one other thing--Jenny is G-Girl, New York's superheroine who no one reacts to with awe; she's just there, saving the day. When she unloads this secret to Matt, he thinks it's pretty badass, and thinks he's hit the jackpot. But when he and his co-worker Hannah (Faris) seem to be getting too cozy, she starts flying off the handle, which isn't good considering how dangerous she can be. Soon, he breaks up with her, and she plots unholy revenge on him every day. Meanwhile, there's supervillain Professor Bedlam (Eddie Izzard) who used to be in love with Jenny before she got her superpowers, and felt shunned after she got them and started seeing other boys--plotting to do the stuff Lex Luthor usually does to Superman.

These movies are never really as funny as the filmmakers must think they are--it's not that the jokes are just howlingly bad, they just aren't laugh-yourself-silly hilarious. And I'm not sure a movie like this could ever be Ghostbusters, even with more assured comic actors. It's a concept with no room to maneuver, no real facets to explore--it's all one joke, basically an "SNL" sketch stretched into a couple of hours, and we know how well those usually go.

One person acquits himself rather well and it's "The Office" breakthrough Rainn Wilson, whose character is hilariously self-centered in a way that I haven't seen in films too often, if ever. His scenes getting rejected by women are the funniest bits of the movie. Practically everything that includes him lights the movie up with potential comic energy, but unfortunately, the movie isn't about him.


At 7/23/2006 05:34:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

It's amazing to think that Reitman was the guy who directed the classic Ghostbusters and a lot of solid comedies like Dave, Kindergarten Cop, Twins, Legal Eagles, and Stripes; hell, even Meatballs looks like a classic compared to the dreck he has given us over the past ten years. Seven Days, Seven Nights, Evolution, Junior, Father's Day, and now this. I haven't seen it, but the previews make it look like it's a turd; all the reviewers are saying the same thing. So, I'm going to go out on a limb and say this movie is pretty much a pile of shit. Too bad with the likes of Rainn Wilson, Anna Farris, and Eddie Izzard, that this couldn't be funnier.


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