My Super Ex-Girlfriend (20th Century Fox, PG-13)

Just like you and me, G-Girl also has her share of problems, chief among them loneliness.

 

A refreshing twist on the conventional romantic comedy, Ivan Reitman's latest film, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, is a smart send-up of the break-up genre, mixing superhero mythology and relationship revenge to witty effect. In a seasonal field littered with last stands, returns, and codes, this film's energy has a little more hop than one might expect.

Much like another superhero speeding through summer movie screens, G-Girl (Uma Thurman) has an indestructible streak: she's bulletproof (although her costume is most provocatively not) and able to fly, with extraordinary hearing and several other powers just as equally familiar to comic book fans. The life of a superhero is not all glory. Helping save people and stopping crime day-in and day-out can be wearisome; just like you and me, G-Girl also has her share of problems, chief among them loneliness. This changes when Matt Saunders (Luke Wilson) approaches G-Girl's dour-looking and alliterative alter ego Jenny Johnson on the subway. Only moments after he is soundly rebuked, Matt soon finds himself in pursuit of a thief who has just made off with Jenny's purse. This act of bravado earns him a dinner date, and lets the audience know just what kind of relationship this is gearing up to be.

While the setup of the romance has its moments, including a farcical bedroom scene, it's the ex- part of the story that propels the action and the comedy. For all her heroic traits, Jenny/G-Girl has a few emotional screws loose, and as Matt quickly learns after she reveals her identity, even a super vixen can be a little too clingy. Between Matt's growing infatuation with co-worker Hannah (Anna Farris), and his increasing unease in the presence of G-Girl-especially in the wake of their unique "Mile High Club" tryst-things begin to unravel. A restaurant scene involving a double date between Matt and Jenny and Hannah and her boyfriend is one of the film's more delightful comedic moments. Hannah's boyfriend stands her up and the threesome soon deteriorates; even with a missile heading toward the city, Jenny seems more inclined to keep an eye on Matt than to don her do-gooder persona. Apparently jealousy can do a number on even a heroine's selflessness.

After the breakup, G-Girl warns Matt he will soon regret his decision. Hell hath no fury like a superwoman scorned. G-Girl's retaliations take hilariously spiteful turns, including one of the more peevish uses of heat-ray vision likely to by seen on film anytime soon. There's also a subplot involving Professor Bedlam/Barry (Eddie Izzard), the hated archrival and schoolyard pal of G-Girl, that could have easily weighed the film down. But Izzard's straight-laced performance and the tie-in to G-Girl's origin makes it a charming addition.

Very little in My Super Ex-Girlfriend is dazzling, but the modesty of the acting, the unpretentious effects, and the self-assured direction collaborate just enough to create a satisfying movie. What success the film achieves is the equal result of Don Payne's script and a well-placed cast. Payne, a veteran writer of television stalwart The Simpsons, keeps the absurd laughs even-keeled, letting Wilson's droll, everyman persona and Thurman's rampaging madness lead the way. As supporting characters go, Farris puts in a solid performance, and Izzard is his usual consistent self, smartly understating the typical supervillian act. Rainn Wilson, who can dominate entire scenes within the ensemble cast of NBC's The Office, is given the customary procession of best-friend zingers, the kind of plausibly insane lines that work well with Wilson's deadpan timing.

Reitman's success here is in its simplicity, a lack of preening irony and self-aware humor. It's that kind of restraint that lets My Super Ex-Girlfriend remain an undemanding film, one endowed with a high concept, but one that also has the wherewithal to never overreach its potential.

Official site

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply