Melissa McCarthy’s first A.I. comedy is not as intelligent as it should have been.
Ben Falcone has guided his wife Melissa McCarthy about 4 times in his career. He also made “Tammy,” “The Boss,” and “Life of the Party,” all of which I thought were terrible, and now “Superintelligence,” which is marginally better than those films, but still sells itself short. It just goes to show that they’re better off being guided by other filmmakers than themselves.
It’s another A.I. movie to use a celebrity as a voice assistant like Scarlett Johansson in “Her” or Rose Byrne in “Jexi,” but it should have been more exhilarating or funny as it should have been. It just relies on McCarthy’s obvious slapstick for big laughs, like when she tries and fails to sit in a giant beanbag or when she falls in the street, and the story never takes any risks. It basically has the same stuff we’ve seen before-upcoming apocalypses, dates, and celebrity puns-and they’re mostly handled in a lackluster way.
McCarthy stars as Carol Peters, a former corporate executive and a down-on-her-luck job seeker, who finds herself under the watchful eye of an A.I. known as Superintelligence. It gives it a James Cordon voice, because Carol is a big fan. Why wouldn’t she be? This A.I. changes her life by giving her money, expensive clothes, a Tesla (with William Daniel’s K.I.T.T. voice cameo), a foundation website for economic and social economy, and a luxury apartment.
He (at least I can call it a he) asks Carol a hypothetical question: what would she do if the world was ending in 3 days? She decides to reunite with her old boyfriend George (Bobby Cannavale), who is leaving for Ireland in that exact number of days. She succeeds in scoring a date with him, but apparently this A.I. was not really being hypothetical. He actually plans to destroy the Earth unless she can convince it (I’ll just call it “it” for the sake of argument) that there is good to humanity.
The point being: she must reconnect with George in order to save the world.
The supporting cast also consists of Brian Tyree Henry as Carol’s Microsoft tech friend, Jean Smart as the POTUS, Falcone and Sam Richardson as two NSA agents, and Octavia Spencer voice cameoing as the female A.I.
I liked chunks of “Superintelligence,” while most of it seems obligatory and uninspired. I thought some of the jokes were ticklish-the funniest being the agents getting annoyed when the A.I. plays the “Law & Order” sound effect over and over again-and I liked the performances from McCarthy, Cannavale, Henry, and Corden when they try to overcome the script. And when Corden does appear as himself in various segments on the screen, he’s fun, but he’s not given the kind of celebrity scope I saw in “Being John Malkovich.”
Falcone’s previous movies he directed were terrible, and this one is a somewhat improvement over them, but I still can’t recommend it. In order for this to be an A.I. comedy, it has to try original things, it has to be closely observed, and it has to be lively. It’s just too dumb to be smart.
Streaming on HBO Max