Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006)

The Movie: Matt Saunders (Luke Wilson) is your average nice guy living in New York City. His problem is that he’s not great with women. He’s desperately in love with his best friend and coworker Hannah (Anna Faris, of May and the Scary Movie franchise). However, she’s dating an underwear model, so he figures he doesn’t have a chance. Worse, he has a knack for getting involved with crazy women; and his last relationship has him scared to date six months later.

Matt’s problems really begin when his friend Vaughn (Rainn Wilson, no relationship it seems) convinces him to approach a woman on the subway. Despite himself, Matt does wind up impressing her, and he and Jenny Johnson (Uma Thurman of Kill Bill and the Adventures of Baron Munchausen) start dating. Matt has some misgivings at first, thinking she seems like some of the other crazy women he’s been involved with, but for a while it doesn’t go too badly.

Things start to change after a run in with super villain Professor Bedlam (comedian Eddie Izzard), and Matt finds out who his girlfriend really is. He’s been dating G-Girl, the local superhero. Worse, Matt’s initial impression about her was correct; Jenny is insecure, jealous, manipulative and unstable.

When Matt has enough of it and breaks up with her, things get really bad. Jenny is determined to make him pay for breaking her heart. You think psycho exes are bad? Imagine a psycho ex who is capable of putting your car into orbit, or hurling a shark through your window…

The Review:

Wow, no woman’s ever done that to me; and I am a dick.”

I would like to begin by wishing my readers (all four or five of you) a happy Valentines’ Day. In recognition of the holiday, and to show my views on it, I have two reviews; this one, and Humanoids from the Deep.

Admittedly, My Super Ex-Girlfriend is not a great movie. It’s not a bad movie (those who say it is have no idea how bad movies can get), but it definitely could have been better. However, I have an affection for it nonetheless. I can cite three reasons for this. The first one is probably the circumstances surrounding the first time I watched it. I had wanted to see it for a while, and one night I rented it along with the movie May. After watching both movies I suddenly realized two things; it was about two weeks since I had broken up with my ex, and I had just rented and watched two movies featuring a break-up that went catastrophically wrong. I cannot help but wonder if it truly was a coincidence, or if there was something going on in my subconscious. Admittedly, both movies also star Anna Faris; but since I was unaware of it at the time I’m pretty sure that was a coincidence.

My second reason for liking this movie, and my reason for wanting to see it ever since I first saw the previews, is its handling of Jenny aka G-Girl. I have long had a problem with the character of Superman, he’s too perfect. Not only is he practically unstoppable physically, he is completely incorruptible psychologically and morally. Aside from his allergy to a rare mineral, he pretty much has no flaws whatsoever.

With the exception of her gender, G-Girl is Superman. Physically, she has all of his powers and abilities. However, psychologically she is Superman as I am sure he would really turn out. While having those kinds of powers would seem fun, they would also serve to separate their recipient from the rest of humanity. Even before Jenny got her powers she was socially awkward, and they have further served to isolate her. As a result, she is insecure, having very little ability to actually socialize with the people around her. Each mistake she makes in that regard reinforces her sense of isolation and insecurity in a vicious cycle, making her unstable.

Kudos are due to Uma Thurman and the makers of this movie for G-Girl. She is convincingly dangerous and scary, but at the same time she is sympathetic as well. I have actually known some people like Jenny in my life, sometimes even felt like her myself. The only difference being G-Girl is a lot worse on account of her being able to throw a car when she has a temper tantrum.

The third reason I like this movie despite its flaws is my identification with Matt Saunders. I, myself, have long had a knack for attracting crazy women; at least, crazier than usual. Yes, I did just say women are crazy. Men are equally crazy and, while I have yet to meet any hermaphrodites, I would bet anything they are no less psychologically messed up. To be human (and, I’m beginning to suspect, sentient) is to be insane, screwed up and damaged to some extent. It’s just that for some reason I seem to attract the women who are more blatantly so than usual.

Admittedly, Luke Wilson’s performance as Matt isn’t particularly memorable, either as really good or really bad. However, he plays the part adequately. The role itself, though, is very convincing. Matt is a more or less decent guy who is just trying to do the right thing, but who keeps winding up with the wrong type of woman. This is the hook that keeps me engaged in the film despite its other flaws; I know all too well what it’s like when the ones you want always seem just out of reach, while the ones who want you always seem hazardous to your health.

So those are the good points, what are the bad? Well, a lot of the attempts at humor fall flat. The movie provides not one, but two sources of odious comedy relief. There’s Matt’s uptight boss, Carla (Wanda Sykes), who is convinced that he’s some kind of sex fiend and constantly on the lookout for a reason to bust him. Then there’s Vaughn who is a sex fiend, and an asshole to boot. Both actors obviously have some talent, but their parts really don’t provide them much to work with and they tend to come off as painfully unfunny.

As a whole the movie is well shot and blocked. The special effects are good, and they are actually directed by the story instead of the other way around. I also love the animation during the ending credits, although I make a point of muting it because the song played is so insipid.

As a whole, I would say that My Super Ex-Girlfriend is a decent movie. It’s far from great, but it is fun and it handles well several issues I can relate to. What can I say? I like it, whether or not anyone else does.

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