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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Bait Shark: My Super Ex-Girlfriend

So today we saw My Super Ex-Girlfriend. It's for game balance. Really. I can't have all y'all thinking that I spent my entire weekend taking in Icelandic film adaptations of olde English literature. I'm not a TOTAL nerd, you know, just 99.44%. Nerds that float, ya us.

If you, like me, were seduced by the shark scene in the trailer, I'm sad to say that you, too, have been seduced and abandoned. The movie isn't bad on the "Sweet Jeebus, make it end!" kind of level, but it deserves that damnation with faint praise. The script is disjointed in an odd way.

If Nacho Libre is a series of awkwardly connected SNL Babies sketches . . . well, I'm still not sure what My Super Ex-Girlfriend is. At a number of points, both M and I thought that the plot might be following a promising thread, and at almost every turn it didn't. Even the one liners aren't particularly funny, and the cast seems to know it (there are some painfully flat moments in terms of delivery). Hell, even the SHARK isn't actually funny, as the gag goes on far too long and includes an unfunny "OMGWTF it's going for Luke Wilson's penis!" schtick.

The characters are so one note that it almost seems deliberate---as if the writer were going appealing to the allegorical elements of superhero legends. But that's more likely to be my brain kicking into overnerd as it works its way up from Beowulf to Bunyan than it is to be any deliberate plan on Don Payne's (the screenwriter) part. And all of the characters, even the ones I presume I was supposed to like, are at least low-level assholes. Consequently, I didn't end up caring much about the troubles they endured, particularly the ones they brought on themselves by dickishness and/or obliviousness. So much about the story seemed cynical, and it left me feeling the same.

As one might expect with the cast this movie rated, even the lackluster writing couldn't wring out all the moments that work. Rainn and Luke Wilson have some amusing "guys are pigs" moments together, even if many of them are embedded within wierd padding scenes that consist exclusively of Rainn Wilson being creepy and getting shot down by women. Uma Thurman has some endearing moments despite the fact that Payne seems to want us to think that she has no nonphysical attributes that could attract anyone and that Luke Wilson simply wants to do and dump her.

But even though the cast manages to salvage something from the script, it's the cast that also makes me a lot less inclined to cut the movie slack than I might otherwise have been. Owen may be the more charismatic and talented Wilson brother, but Luke has had his stellar moments: The X-Files vampire episode, his stint on That '70s Show, etc. Having him put on a little weight and play up his slightly funny teeth really shouldn't be able to strip him entirely of his charm and humor. Uma Thurman has taken her wrong turns in films, but not since The Avengers has she had so little to work with (ok, let's not say things we can't take back---this wasn't as bad as The Avengers).

I don't watch The Office, but I understand that Rainn Wilson doesn't have any problem bringing the funny. And one has to work really hard to turn Wanda Sykes into a completely unfunny, humorless sexual harassment Narc. As for Anna Farris, the only thing I've seen her in before this was Brokeback Mountain, and I formed no opinion of her. In this, I found her grating in the extreme, although I admit that might have been the result of being written as a completely nothing character.

But the worst---THE WORST---is casting Eddie Fucking Izzard as a goddamned supervillain and then whizzing the opportunity completely down your leg. He's given virtually nothing to do, made out to be a creepy stalker, and then winds up being the superhero's little woman. (Ok, there is a mildly funny gag at the end in which both he and Luke Wilson are left holding the purses and street clothes of their superpowered babes, but that's genuinely IT.) It's criminal, I tell you.

I'm not saying this is one to be avoided at all costs, but it's not even really worth a rental. If it came on television, you might watch it during commercial breaks for something out of the Reitman stable from the time when he had quirky and funny down pat.

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2 Comments:

Blogger tigtog said...

OK, I think you've just saved me some cinema-spending. I really liked the look of this, and my kids did too. Evil, eeeviiiil trailer-editors.

I agree on hating it when they waste a cast like this. Even though I ended up thinking they'd schmaltz-spoiled the ending of Click, at least the rest of it worked, and worked well.

8:48 PM  
Blogger Matilda said...

Agggh, I posted this on YOUR blog instead of as a response to MINE. Because I am a moron.

Anyway . . . :

I'm always happy to save my Best Mates from bad movies. Another real problem with this one is that it seems to have no idea to whom it's pitched. It's not really a romantic comedy, and it's really not appropriate for kids (I know that sounds hopelessly prudish), not because of the fact of sex, but because it has such a dire view of sex and what men will do to get it. It's certainly not a superhero movie.

Incidentally, if you haven't already seen it, I can heartily recommend Sky High, which is quite a charming little John Hughes of a superhero movie. Plus, it's got a great soundtrack.

9:03 PM  

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