A little while ago, I heard a podcast where the host expressed his frustration at Melissa McCarthy's career. He'd been a member of the Groundlings improv comedy company alongside her back in the day, and in her early career, he couldn't understand the roles she was being offered and taking, knowing full well the extent of her comedy genius and acting talent. Melissa has since come a long way and Hollywood got hip to the fact - she even has two Oscar nominations to prove it. Her fourth partnership with husband Ben Falcone as a star-director/writer combo (the others being 'Tammy', 'The Boss' and 'Life of the Party'), 'Superintelligence' commits the same crime against comedy as all those who came before in McCarthy's early career - it hides her gifts.
I'll admit that I've now seen three of the four collaborative efforts and they're... fine, but by no means great. However, 'Superintelligence' is particularly mediocre. There's barely any physical comedy for MM to lean into. No goofiness, no idiosyncrasies. McCarthy's Carol is constantly referred to as a painfully "average human being", yet I saw nothing average about a highly intelligent and accomplished woman leaving her career behind to dabble in different roles and dedicate her time to philanthropic ventures. I'm still not sure if the film was being ironic with this or not. And then it hit me - this film is Melissa's first foray as a romantic lead on the big screen. Sure, she's had dalliances before, but never as a central focus. And in this, 'Superintelligence' has committed the sin of taking away everything we love about the comedienne, leaving nothing but a... painfully average person, all for the sake of some romance.
SWITCH: 'SUPERINTELLIGENCE' TRAILER
When an AI develops superintelligence, it discovers it has the power to destroy, enslave or help the planet. In trying to figure out which path to choose, it targets Carol Peters (McCarthy) to observe for a few days in order to get a better grasp on humanity and ascertain if it is, in fact, worth saving. After communicating with Carol through her phone, TV, clock radio, toothbrush and rice cooker, Carol is convinced of its existence (and freaked out), and is now on a mission to save the world. Unsure how to go about the task, the AI (voiced by James Cordon, 'The Prom', 'Into The Woods') breaks it down for her - if she had three days left to live, how would she spend that time? She decides to make amends with ex-boyfriend George (Bobby Cannavale, TV's 'Mr Robot', 'Everybody Loves Raymond'). Believing this will show Carol at her most vulnerable, the AI is onboard and willing to do whatever it takes to make this work - including giving Carol a makeover, a Tesla and unimaginable funds... because sure, why not. These are all fun efforts to fill a 90-minute comedy about nothing, right?
There is nothing new here. Not one single thing. And to add insult to injury, McCarthy's talents are wasted.
Boy oh boy oh boy oh boy. I was waiting... but the laughs never came. The sequence of crazy outfits, poking fun at the fashion industry - pedestrian. The woman looking crazy talking to an entity no one but she can hear - elementary and tired. The inept and clueless government bodies - if I had a dollar. The romantic reconciliation - boooooring. There is nothing new here. Not one single thing. And to add insult to injury, McCarthy's talents are wasted. Falcone, her own husband, has given her nothing to do, nothing to play with. Carol is a character McCarthy can play in her sleep, and 'Superintelligence' is a film that came close to putting me to sleep.
Falcone and McCarthy are two people whose partnership should be hitting home runs. They know each other's strengths and weaknesses to such an intimate level that it's a no-brainer. So why doesn't it work? Box office-wise, their collaborations are bringing in less money with each new outing - and now, thanks to COVID-19, who knows if studios will be willing to back these two again. If this is the case, they are not going out on a high note. Perhaps this is a good opportunity to go back to formula. With around 60 years of comedy experience between them, we know they're better than this. If only they knew it themselves.