My Super Ex-Girlfriend is a fun little flick. It's not flawless and it sure isn't brilliant, but it offers a clever spin on some age-old rom-com conventions, delivers a colorful zing of flashy super-heroics, and showcases a pretty fantastic cast of comedic actors, all of whom are clearly having some fun here. Basically, if last summer's Sky High tickled your inner comic geek while offering a few unexpected chuckles along the way, there's no good reason you shouldn't find something to like in My Super Ex-Girlfriend. If you're looking for a light little confection for you and the boyfriend, you'll find unisexual chuckles aplenty. And if there's one faction of movie fans who should absolutely not miss this movie, it's those loyal members of the Uma Thurman Fan Club. Because she's pretty damn great in this movie -- even if she won't get much credit for the performance.
Imagine a comedic take on Fatal Attraction, only the jilted woman is a little less psychotic and a lot more superhuman. By day she's Jenny Johnson, a semi-frumpy Normal Jane who works in an art gallery. By night (mostly) she's G-Girl, the high-flying, sonic-booming super-heroine who's always there to save the
Saunders is a perfectly likeable vanilla schlub who has a perpetually horny best friend and a doe-eyed blonde co-worker with a boyfriend, darnit. But after meeting her on the subway and trying to retrieve her purse from a nasty mugger, Matt asks Jenny out on a date, and the pair begin that typically sweet-yet-painful stage called "getting to know you." Despite the fact that Jenny's rather beautiful, intelligent, and successful, Matt quickly realizes that she's got a few quietly freaky little character flaws. But hey, who doesn't, right? So off the young lovers go to enjoy the always-magical "early-stage romance."
But Matt slowly begins to get the picture: In addition to being beautiful, intelligent, and successful, Jenny is also rather pushy, controlling, and paranoid. And while Matt is justifably dazzled by the discovery of his new girlfriend's super-heroic "talents" ... clearly this relationship is not going to work out. But when you mix mild emotional instability with the power of a goddess, you're in for a special kind of trouble. And Matt's in some pretty big trouble.
Half romantic comedy and half "comedy" comedy, My Super Ex-Girlfriend is a clever enough concept, and it's brought to colorful life thanks to a witty script, a quick pace, and a pretty darn excellent ensemble of comic performers. Say what you will about Luke Wilson's previous performances, but here the guy seems to be channelling John Ritter at his most wide-eyed and affable -- and doing a pretty good job of it! Wilson's job is mainly to react to his super-gal's progressively loonier behavior, but I'd be lying if I said the guy didn't wring a half-dozen chuckles out of me. (His delivery of the line "None taken!" had me giggling like an idiot, even if I was the only guy in the theater who thought it was funny.)
I'll save Uma for the next paragraph, because two of the supporting players do all they can to steal My Super Ex-Girlfriend away from the leads, and their names are Rainn Wilson and Anna Faris. Wilson you most likely know from his painfully hilarious performance on The Office, and here he plays a leering would-be Lothario who's always full of bad advice for poor Matt Saunders. Put into baseball terms, Wilson hits at about a .900 clip in this flick. Just about every line the guy delivers is either A) funny or B) very funny. And Anna Faris continues to prove that she's one of the most underrated and consistently charming comediennes out there. She doesn't do Scary Movie-style antics here, but Faris still makes with the funny when asked to, and she's still as cute as a button.
And then there's Uma. Uma, Uma, Uma. (Sigh.) From her early days as a "model turned actress" in films like Dangerous Liaisons and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen ... well, let's just say that I used to be a fan of her body. And now I'm a fan of her body of work. (Groan, I know.) From Pulp Fiction to Kill Bill to The Producers, Uma has become one of the most reliable scene-stealers in today's Hollywood. Hell, she even managed to managed to escape from Batman & Robin unscathed -- but only by being the very best thing in the whole rotten flick! So yeah, I'm a fan, which means you could take it with a grain of salt when I opine that Uma Thurman's Super Ex performance is, well, super excellent. She looks just dandy as a tights-clad super-heroine, but as the skittish, angry, and periodically insane Jenny Johnson -- Uma is funnier than she's ever been before.
Old-school comedy director Ivan Reitman has done great films (Ghostbusters, Stripes, Dave) and some not-so great films (Junior, Six Days Seven Nights, Evolution), but here he keeps the story moving at a brisk and frisky clip, and the guy still knows how to use editing tricks for maximum chuckle-dom. The movie's main subplot, which involves a supervillain from Jenny's past, telegraphs the flick's ending almost instantaneously, which isn't exactly a good thing, but it's a forgivable misstep from a generally amiable comedy. (That said supervillain is played by Eddie Izzard helps a whole lot, because the guy's as goofy as ever -- even if he could have used a little more screen-time.) The only performer who seems to get lost in the shuffle is Wanda Sykes as Saunders' boss, who gets a small handful of laughs in only three or four (somewhat pointless) scenes.
Some may be tempted to dismiss My Super Ex-Girlfriend as lightweight piffle, and that may be a fair assessment, but at least it's an entertaining piece of lightweight piffle -- which is a considerably more than could be said for most of its genre brethren. It's probably not destined to be a box office smash or a Top Ten of the Year-lister, but My Super Ex-Girlfriend is funnier, stranger, sweeter, and more entertaining than I had any reason to expect ... and it's a whole lot better than what normally passes for "romantic comedy" in today's multiplexes.
Plus, on a final note, I'd like to applaud Reitman and screenwriter Don Payne for creating a flawed-yet-likeable female character without feeling the need to "explain away" or apologize for her emotional shortcomings. These are stylized caricatures playing in a broad little comedy, but the Jenny character is amusing because she's so familiar, and Thurman's performance (which is equal parts strange, sad, silly and sweet) just seals the deal.