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Film Review: ‘Superintelligence’ Comes Up Decidedly Short on Intelligence and Laughs

Warner Bros.

One gets the sense that Superintelligence should have been better than this. After all, the concept is potentially clever. The possibilities are nearly endless for a film about an average person being studied by an artificial intelligence to determine what humans are like. Unfortunately, the execution leaves much to be desired. There are far too many broad comedy moments peppered in that stop the plot dead in its tracks. Even a great cast can’t save this one. The more you watch, the more the movie tries to charm you and trick you into liking it. It comes close at times, but ultimately fails.

Superintelligence has Melissa McCarthy well-cast in the lead role, but very little consistently works here. It’s no surprise that Warner Bros. decided to cut their losses with this one and go straight to HBO Max. It’s just too dated a comedy, especially in terms of what it offers up an audience. Had it come out in a normal year, with a theatrical release and everything, it likely would have died a quick death at the box office.

For some reason, real life couple Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy can’t produce memorable movies when they work together (at least under Falcone’s direction). What McCarthy achieves consistently with Paul Feig (and admittedly, Bridesmaids did feature a cameo by Falcone), she’s unable to do with Falcone. Alas.

Warner Bros.

Carol Peters (McCarthy) is the definition of an average woman. She leads a good life and has a good heart, but nothing of note really happens to her. Then, a sentient superintelligence comes into her life, choosing to study her. Taking on the voice and mannerisms of James Corden to soothe her, it informs Carol that it’s going to be observing her for three days. Then, it’ll make a determination whether to save humanity, enslave it, or destroy it. Initially resistant to the A.I. and wishing it would go away, she eventually decides she needs to prove that humanity is worth saving. The computer showers her with money and opportunities, taking all distractions away, essentially. Carol informs her computer programmer friend Dennis (Brian Tyree Henry) about it, which results in him putting the NSA (Falcone and Sam Richardson) on her tale.

From there on, she’s tasked with trying to make things right with ex-boyfriend George (Bobby Cannavale), who she regrets messing up with. The superintelligence sees her success or failure there as a prime test for the species. As she re-establishes a connection with George, the government is breathing down her neck, trying to decide if the planet is on the brink of disaster.

Warner Bros.

Melissa McCarthy does what she can here, but it’s in vain. The entire cast is wasted, from McCarthy on down, but you notice it more with her than you do with Cannavale, Henry, or Richardson, for example. Other supporting players like Jean Smart fare no better, though it’s a pretty stacked cast, considering the middling execution of the material. Cannavale and McCarthy do have great chemistry, though, so some of their scenes do have a charm to them. It’s just not nearly enough to save the day. Then, there’s James Corden, who comes off as more annoying than anything. Some of it is by design, but it’s the one bit of casting that never quite works here, adding it to the pile of small misfires on display.

Ben Falcone is an actor and writer who only directs when paired with his wife as the star. Unfortunately, that’s produced The Boss, Life of the Party, and Tammy, which run the gamut from terrible to fair. With another team-up on the way, Falcone and McCarthy aren’t giving up the ghost anytime soon, but Superintelligence is another example of why they should. Nothing here in the flick is particularly creative, and while the there are occasional moments of wit from Steve Mallory‘s script, it’s all half-baked. Falcone and Mallory either needed to to lean into the science fiction of it all or make it a full on romantic comedy. By trying to have their cake and eat it too, they wind up missing both marks.

Superintelligence is too bland to be annoying, but it does hint at a far better movie than we ultimately get. Mostly, it’s more evidence that McCarthy is better served with someone like Feig directing her than with Falcone. This may be their most ambitious collaboration, but it’s an immediately forgettable one. Now playing on HBO Max, it’s destined to be shrugged off moments after watching.

SCORE: ★★

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Written by Joey Magidson

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