Letter From The Editor - Issue 59 - October 2017

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Writing Fantasy

  
At The Picture Show
July 2006

'Super' bore

'My Super Ex-Girlfriend' is straight off the assembly line

My Super Ex-Girlfriend
20th Century Fox
Director: Ivan Reitman
Screenplay: Don Payne
Starring the voices of: Luke Wilson, Uma Thurman, Anna Faris, Rainn Wilson, Wanda Sykes and Eddie Izzard
Rated PG-13 / 1 hour, 35 minutes
Opened July 21, 2006
(out of four)

I liked superheroes better when they were still larger than life, when they still had that one-of-a-kind mystique. Because now, hate to say it, they're starting to lose their edge. Even, dare I say, their awesomeness. And it's all Ivan Reitman's fault.

You remember when you were a kid, and there was that cool, brand-new toy that everyone wanted, and you were the first one to get it and suddenly you were the coolest kid in school, and then in just a matter of time everybody got that toy, and then the toy wasn't all that cool anymore, and then you ended up just breaking it? Yeah, superheroes are kind of like that toy -- they're kind of dorky now. (By the way, I was never the first kid to get the toy.)

First, comic-book heroes became popular on the silver screen, then there was the great The Incredibles, the fun Sky High, August's Sky High rip-off Zoom, and now the romantic comedy, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, which is basically a tapestry of rom-com clichés dressed up in a clever concept. Honestly, it could have been a clever idea: Boy meets girl, things get serious, girl reveals that she is actually an emotionally unstable crime-fighting superhero, boy breaks up with girl, girl makes boy's life a living hell . . . before they of course have to team up to save the day in the end. You could have a lot of fun playing with convention with that story -- it leaves a lot of room for comedic invention. Such a relationship could even be a metaphor for relationships in general. That could be fun.

But screenwriter Don Payne never thought that far ahead. Instead, he paints this story with the most generic brush he could find, stocking up on hackneyed dialogue and plot points, with too little irony to make it all worthwhile. Helping him along is the once-talented Ivan Reitman, the director of Ghostbusters and Dave, but most recently Evolution, Fathers' Day and, well, this garbage.

Mild-mannered Matt Saunders (Luke Wilson) works for a design firm. He is unlucky in love, until he meets Jenny Johnson (Uma Thurman), a bookish librarian with a bit too much pent-up aggression and a little bitty secret . . . she's also the super-hot, super-powered superhero, G-Girl. Of course, as you can tell from the title of the movie, G-Girl/Jenny eventually becomes Matt's jealous ex. Matt's perky co-worker, Hannah (Anna Faris) is predictably involved.

Also along for the ride, of course, is Matt's best friend, Vaughn (Rainn Wilson). I don't think anything more needs to be said about the character list -- they're all stock characters and you probably already know exactly what each one is like, and exactly what role each will fill in the plot.

There are a few (though very few) nice touches along the way -- such as the introduction of the villain, Professor Bedlam (Eddie Izzard). Bedlam is casually introduced as being in "the super-villain business" -- nicely done. Unfortunately, that wry wit is nowhere to be found in most of the film.

When he's not starring in bad movies, Izzard is the funniest stand-up comedian alive. But he's pretty much on auto pilot here, as is everyone else. Also, so-called "comedienne" Wanda Sykes is involved -- and as always, she's not funny, not original and not amusing.

Nothing can really salvage this mess -- the action sequences are dull and the special effects are mostly awful. For all its potential, My Super Ex-Girlfriend is anything but.

Read more by Chris Bellamy


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