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Friday, Feb. 9, 2007

'My Super Ex-Girlfriend'

Superactress suffers in superbad film

People tend to talk about "chick flicks" a lot, you know, the kind of film that stars Anne Hathaway or Holly Hunter and has people stressing a lot about their relationships. There's an assumption that certain sort of films will only play to female audiences, but you never hear about the flip side of the coin.

My Super Ex-Girlfriend Rating: (2 out of 5)
Star Star Star Star Star
My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Uma Thurman hopes there's a door at the end of this corridor that will enable her to escape the appalling "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" (c)TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX

Director: Ivan Reitman
Running time: 98 minutes
Language: English
Opens Feb. 10, 2007
[See Japan Times movie listing]

"Dude movies," aimed squarely at a male demographic, are certainly plentiful enough, and this month's example is "My Super Ex-Girlfriend," a movie that combines loser-gets-some sex comedy and superhero parody into one big dirty laundry bag full of guy-only laughs. How do I know this is a "dude flick?" Well, the first "joke" that appears a few minutes into the film is when one guy turns to his buddy and asks, "If you could have any superpower, what would it be?" To which his friend replies, "The ability to blow myself." Duu-uu-de!

Let's start with the premise of this movie, which is, in a nutshell, chicks are freakin' crazy. Well, not all chicks -- just the needy, jealous, controlling, neurotic, passive-aggressive ones; a distinction that may be lost on female viewers. Guys may be more comfortable with the truth of this proposition, but at least the movie plays fair, hewing close to that time worn adage, "Men are stupid, women are crazy."

Stupid in this flick is a bland nebbish named Matt, played by the professionally bland Luke Wilson. This everyguy role has Adam Sandler written all over it, except it was probably too demeaning even for him, and that's saying something. Matt is a guy who can't seem to get anywhere with the ladies. He has a crush on a girl named Hannah (Anna Faris) who works in the same office, but she's dating a model. (Rule No. 1 of dude flicks: The protagonist can't be more good-looking than the average audience member.) Matt's nerdy friend Vaughn (Rainn Wilson) thinks of himself as a pickup expert, and gives Matt all sorts of misguided advice on how to score.

Matt starts dating a woman he meets on the subway, a bespectacled nervous type named Jenny Johnson (Uma Thurman), who clearly seems to have some issues. Red lights are flashing, but Vaughn advises Matt, with classic dude-movie logic, that "neurotic women are hellcats in bed." The first two words in that sentence ought to throw a cold shower on the last three, but since when has a guy ever allowed self-preservation to throw him off the scent of sex? (And Bill Clinton is surely the textbook case here.)

What Matt doesn't know is that his girlfriend is actually G-Girl, the superhero who flies around the city defeating bad guys, preventing disasters, and such. Matt suspects something's funny when he goes to bed with Jenny and she shags him so hard the bed slams through a wall and collapses. "I'll get you a new one," apologizes Jenny. "A bed, or a penis?" asks Matt. Maybe she was referring to a new agent; no doubt, that's what both stars were thinking when they shot this astoundingly silly scene.

As G-Girl's relationship with Matt begins to break down, she starts getting crazy-bitch hysterical, and you just cringe watching the actress try to work the unfunny material. Is this what Uma Thurman's career has come to? The Uma of "Dangerous Liaisons," "Tape," "Pulp Fiction" and "Gattaca?" Halfway through "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" and you find yourself thinking, "Gee, maybe 'The Avengers' wasn't so bad." This must be her career low, overacting from beginning to end, all exaggerated twitchiness and lip-biting as Jenny, and shrieking harpy excess as G-Girl. Perhaps Thurman's action-girl spin through "Kill Bill" convinced director Ivan Reitman (the king of "dude flicks," who produced 1979's "Animal House") that she'd be good as a superhero. Well, the wonder is the woman has no super sense for comedy.

Anyhow, the rest of the film involves G-Girl using her superpowers to take revenge on Matt for dumping her, using eye beams to burn the word "dick" into his forehead, blowing holes in his ceiling, and more. Matt then decides to team up with supervillain Bedlam (Eddie Izzard) to take away G-Girl's powers. It's a sign of the film's awfulness that even Izzard has barely a funny line to work with, truly a surprise given that screenwriter Don Payne spent three seasons writing for "The Simpsons," which seems to be consistently clever and sharp. Perhaps Reitman, who directed "Ghostbusters," thought all the CG effects of superpowered vengeance would be good enough sight gags.

If I could have any superpower, I sure know what it would be: The ability to smell crap at 100 meters. With that power, I would never have even entered the cinema showing this one, which is, as Bart Simpson once put it, so very "craptacular."

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