Remember the scene in the original Superman where the hero and Lois Lane are making goo-goo eyes at each other while they soar through the night over Metropolis?
My Super Ex-Girlfriend's heroine G-Girl (Uma Thurman) has no such pure intentions or romantic pretenses as she clutches boyfriend Matt Saunders (Luke Wilson) on a fly-by of New York City. Hers is more of a fetish flight, and their little soar through the starry skies sets new standards for the Mile High Club.
It's a great idea, but director Ivan Reitman can't deliver the laughs. The light-on-guffaws, high-on-concept scene is typical for this mash-up of superhero stories and romantic comedies. My Super Ex-Girlfriend is, however, more clever and funny than anything Reitman has had his name attached to in years. That's not saying much, given his laundry list of duds (he directed Evolution and Six Days, Seven Nights, and produced Eurotrip and Pink Panther).
The mild-mannered and sappy Matt is just a regular joe who thinks he's landed the girlfriend of a lifetime with G-Girl. When he discovers she's a needy control-freak, he learns that splitting up with a chick with superpowers isn't just hard to do, but bad for your health. (Think "psycho hose beast" Stacy from Wayne's World, only instead of keying her ex's car, she can knock it into orbit.)
Thurman here seems to enjoy herself, alternating between G-Girl and her mousy alter ego Jenny, and between starry-eyed lover and vengeance demon. She's proven before that comedy and kicking ass both suit her well, and the same is true in My Super Ex-Girlfriend.
Super as Thurman might be, the movie would completely falter without its sidekicks. Reitman has gathered a scene-stealing supporting cast, to whom writer Don Payne has given the best laughs. If you couldn't stomach Waiting ..., Just Friends or a Scary Movie, here's your chance to catch one of today's funniest young actresses in action: Anna Farris. She tones it down for Super Ex, but she's still sparkly, sassy and the perfect girl in the cubicle next door. Also noteworthy is Wanda Sykes, who holds no brassiness back as Matt's militant boss. And the divine Eddie Izzard is wickedly brilliant as loser-turned-archvillain Bedlam.
The best, though, has to be comedy's current it-boy, Rainn Wilson (Dwight from NBC's The Office). Here he plays Vaughn, Matt's work buddy and unlikely dating guru who is one shade of whack-job away from super-geek Dwight.
Luke Wilson, however, doesn't impress. He has a plainness about him that's amplified here. The only special power he gives Matt is a supernatural ability to be not particularly romantic, attractive or interesting. It's hard to imagine a super-woman going berserk for not just a regular guy, but also a dullard.
But a spicier Matt would not have rescued Super Ex from its fated mediocrity. Under the cool and clever concept, this is just a dumbed-down comedy. It's cute, not offensive, not half-bad, but not particularly super either.
Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to email@example.com.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.
Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.
Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.