The 400-Word Review: Superintelligence
By Matthew Huntley
November 26, 2020
At last, Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone have collaborated on a decent film. “Superintelligence” is not destined to be a comedy classic, but it’s a perfectly satisfying and often funny flick — which is a pleasant surprise, considering the record to date.
You know McCarthy, a perennial and worthy comedy star, perfectly well; she has two Oscar nominations and a half-dozen memorable, pitch-perfect performances under her belt. You know Falcone, too, though you might not have noticed; he’s most recognizable as McCarthy’s co-star in a key “Bridesmaids” scene, playing the air marshal she banters with before seducing.
Falcone is also McCarthy’s husband, and the pair have collaborated on four films, her starring and he serving as director, writer and sometimes producer. (He usually also appears in small roles in these films.) The first three of these pairings — “Tammy,” “The Boss” and “Life of the Party” — have ranged from disappointing to very bad, with McCarthy forced to reheat an undercooked script and flail for laughs.
Practice has finally paid off, however, with “Superintelligence,” a sci-fi romcom just wacky enough to work. McCarthy stars as Carol Peters, a perfectly average human being in a sort of in-between stage of life. A neural superintelligence — a sort of hyper-A.I. that forms spontaneously throughout the world’s computer networks — decides that it must study Carol, due to her perfect ordinariness, to determine if humanity is or is not worth saving.
There’s great comic fuel in the banter between Carol and the superintelligence, which speaks in the voice of James Corden to put her at ease. (When addressing a secondary character with better taste than Carol, it switches to Octavia Spencer.) The A.I.’s main desire is to see if Carol can manage to get back together with her ex, an amiable literature professor (Bobby Cannavale); meanwhile, the powers that be have figured out that something catastrophic is afoot.
Were “Superintelligence” just a story about exes trying to patch things up with an assist from an Alexa-esque matchmaker, it wouldn’t work; were it purely a sci-fi spoof about bumbling governments trying to outduel the threat, it wouldn’t work, either.
In splitting the balance, however, it absolutely works. McCarthy remains a no-nonsense star who carries the film with ease, and a strong supporting cast gets the film where it needs to go. I’ll still be apprehensive about the next Falcone production, but “Superintelligence” gives me reason to hope.
My Rating: 6/10
“Superintelligence” is now streaming on HBO Max.