I had a girlfriend who took 200 dollars in 20s out of my wallet and ripped them up before tossing them out of the window of a moving car. If she had superpowers I don’t doubt that she would have killed me. For me Ivan Reitman’s My Super Ex-Girlfriend isn’t a romantic comedy – it’s a peak into nightmare.
Let’s face it – Ivan Reitman’s been wandering in the wilderness for over a decade. The last movie he made was Evolution, and the last movie he made that was worth watching was Dave, way back in 93. So while My Super Ex-Girlfriend is in no way a return to the greatness of Stripes or Ghostbusters, it is much closer to form, a film that hits much more than it misses. In a lot of ways it’s Reitman’s best film since Ghostbusters.
My Super Ex-Girlfriend feels like what we would have gotten if Alan Moore had made Watchmen a romantic comedy. The movie treats superheroes as very real people and finds the psychological quirks that would motivate a heroine like G-Girl and her archnemesis, Professor Bedlam. In this case it’s unrequited love, and frankly I find that a compelling argument for any pair of superfoes of any sex.
Luke Wilson is Matt Saunders, an unassuming architect who seems to always end up with crazy girls. He unwittingly asks out G-Girl’s civilian identity, the mousy Jennifer Jones, and they begin a courtship complicated by all the usual aspects of secret identities. You know, she has to leave dinner suddenly to perform a rescue, he gets kidnapped by Professor Bedlam and hung upside down off the Statue of Liberty. The thing is that Saunders isn’t sure that he and Jennifer have a real thing, even after they have a session in the bedroom that leaves both his dick and his bed broken (kudos to Reitmen et al for bringing this film right to the very edge of what a PG-13 will allow, by the way. The scene where G-Girl fucks Matt in the stratosphere is everything that Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns should have been). When Jennifer reveals her identity to him, Saunders finds his interest piqued, but it soon becomes obvious that she’s jealous, controlling and manipulative. Plus, he’s in love with his co-worker, played by the ever scrumptious Anna Farris.
If Frank Miller and Alan Moore taught us anything in the grim and gritty 80s, it’s that it takes a very cracked psyche to put on a superhero costume, even if you did get Superman-level powers from a meteorite. And if dating has taught me anything it’s that women can be nuts. Put these together and Saunders suddenly finds his life being made a living super-hell. My Super Ex-Girlfriend makes no bones about it – G-Girl is nuts, and she’s acting out in all the worst ways possible.
The fact that she’s completely nuts has upset some female journalists I know. Maybe I’m more misogynistic than I’ve ever given myself credit for, but I found this completely believable. Also, how many unabashedly nuts and abusive husbands/boyfriends have we seen in movies over the years? It’s refreshing that G-Girl is just crazy – sometimes the cigar is just a cigar, as that one guy said.
My Super Ex-Girlfriend isn’t the funniest movie of the year, and it isn’t like you can’t see where it’s going through most of the running time. And it makes the huge mistake of not giving Eddie Izzard enough room to really make Professor Bedlam his own. But it has a couple of things going for it. Wilson is great, maybe for the first time that I’m aware of. He seems to always be stuck as the straight man. It was nice to see him in last year’s Family Stone in a role that probably was meant for Owen, and he got to show off some chops. Here he’s the modified straight man, more in Ben Stiller territory. What’s great is that he has fantastic chemistry with Uma, completely menacing and sexy as G-Girl, and Rainn Wilson, unbelievably good as the best friend. Wilson steals huge chunks of the movie, and Reitman’s smart enough to keep squeezing him on screen. Compare this to last week’s shitfest of an Owen Wilson movie, which kept hilarious Seth Rogen away from the camera as much as possible, shooting itself in the foot.
But coming from a nerd perspective, I found that what set My Super Ex-Girlfriend apart was how well it got the conventions and clichés of superhero comics. From G-Girl’s Wasp-like constant costume changes to tossing cars into near Earth orbit, the film is filled with the warm glow of Silver Age comics.
7.3 out of 10