An all-powerful superintelligence that sounds like James Corden and an ordinary American woman who comes into its sights and suddenly finds herself responsible for the existence of all humanity – that is the premise of the action comedy SUPERINTELLIGENCE, in which director Ben Falcone once again directs his wife Melissa McCarthy. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: Superintelligence (USA 2020)
Nothing extraordinary has ever happened to Carol Peters (McCarthy) in her life. When one day her TV, phone and microwave start giving snarky answers, she logically assumes that someone is kidding her. Or she’s lost her mind. In fact, the world’s first superintelligence (voiced by James Corden) has chosen her as a research subject and taken control of her life – with the much larger, more threatening goal of gaining control of everything. Suddenly Carol is humanity’s last hope to prevent the bitchy artificial intelligence from deciding to pull the plug.
Nepotism is also a widespread phenomenon in Hollywood. Many filmmakers are only too happy to film with their loved ones. Paul WS Anderson, for example, once again portrayed his wife Milla Jovovich (“Resident Evil”, “Monster Hunter”), Peter Hedges (“Ben is back”) and Til Schweiger (“The Wedding”) particularly enjoy filming with their offspring, Francis Ford Coppola (“The Godfather”) regularly brought half his family on board for his films and Ben Falcone has directed four different films so far (a fifth is currently in post-production), in which his wife Melissa McCarthy always played the leading role . After “Tammy – Fully Crazy”, “The Boss” and “How to Party with Mum” indicated a slight upward learning curve, the Falcone-McCarthy team has now achieved the rating “rock solid” in their fourth collaboration “Superintelligence”. Especially since you get the feeling for the first time that Falcone has cast his wife in a leading position again not just because she eventually became Hollywood’s slapstick goddess, but also because she appeared in films like “St. Vincent” and “Can you ever forgive me?” Mimin, who has proven herself as a character actress, still has great acting talent. Now an action comedy material like “Superintelligence” is only partially suitable for really letting off steam in terms of acting. But without McCarthy, who is once again highly committed here, the film would not be nearly as likeable as it is thanks to her.
Carol (Melissa McCarthy) doesn’t really know what to do with the eccentric designer’s creations.
Until recently, the films by the Falcone/McCarthy duo were reserved for lovers of gross motor humor. The actress was allowed to jump from one faux pas to the next on behalf of her husband – and since Ben Falcone, who was mostly responsible for the scripts, never really had a good idea of the timing, overly flat gags sometimes dragged on embarrassingly, which was especially true for McCarthy sold far below their potential. Maybe it’s because it wasn’t Falcone who contributed the script to “Superintelligence”, but Steve Mallory, who was already responsible for the script for the solid “The Boss” – in any case, Melissa McCarthy is no longer just the “funny fat guy” here; an image fueled both by the media and sometimes by herself. There are also scenes in “Superintelligence” in which the actor goes to work fearlessly and with full physical exertion: For a scene during a job interview, for example, McCarthy’s character is completely unable to sit down on an oversized beanbag with any degree of gallantry, and then she does little slides advantageously to the ground. In another, she is forced by an overambitious designer to try on absurd clothing creations in which she literally sinks. Apart from these moments that are not absolutely necessary but at least not ridden to death, “Superintelligence” holds back when it comes to physical humor – instead, the makers rely on the basic likeability of their protagonist and her interaction with Bobby Cannavale (“Motherless Brooklyn”).
“‘Superintelligence’ holds back when it comes to physical humor – instead, the makers rely on the basic likeability of their protagonist and her interaction with Bobby Cannavale.”
Even in those Melissa McCarthy films for which Ben Falcone was not responsible, the comedian and actor can regularly be seen in supporting roles – and is often the object of McCarthy’s desire, as in Paul Feig’s “Bride Alarm”. In “Superintelligence” Falcone has written the character of a CIA agent, while his wife’s amorous interest is in his fellow actor Bobby Cannavale, for whom Steve Mallory has created a love story plot that is both harmless and thoroughly charming. Watching the tender flirtation between his self-confident but never aloof George and Carol, who gradually becomes more and more extroverted thanks to the advice from the AI in her ear, is simply fun because of the harmonious chemistry between the two. The script has enough misadventures for the two of them to place “Superintelligence” clearly in the comedy sector, but never becomes too brutally implausible or silly. But even if the budding love depicted here is poor in lowlights, it also lacks emotional highlights. This is perhaps also because the film is not a pure RomCom, but rather the superintelligence and its plans to wipe out humanity hover over everything.
Carol gets involved with the charming George (Bobby Cannavale)…
The moments of interaction between Carol, who is completely overwhelmed by the situation, and James Corden (“The Prom”) sounding AI (“My analysis shows that hearing James Corden’s voice would calm you down!”) are clearly the strongest of the entire film. When the artificial intelligence initially takes over every single electronic device in Carol’s apartment and then proves again and again that it can really influence every (!) technical utensil, some wonderfully bizarre situations arise, which are made possible by James Corden’s strong Voice acting also makes it seem plausible at any time that Carol and the AI are gradually becoming friends. The film also explains why the superintelligence chose Carol as its target – and this reasoning is largely plausible for a high-concept film like this one. It’s just a shame that the interaction between the AI and Carol becomes less and less over time and even fades into the background after the appearance of Bobby Cannavale. From this moment on, “Superintelligence” slowly but surely mutates into an ordinary romantic comedy – that’s not annoying, but the film would have a lot more potential if the premise was followed through consistently.
“The moments of interaction between Carol and the James Corden-like AI are clearly the strongest in the film. When the artificial intelligence initially takes over every single electronic device in Carol’s apartment and then proves again and again that it can really influence every piece of technical equipment, some wonderfully bizarre situations arise.
In terms of directing, Ben Falcone has so far lacked his own style – but that doesn’t mean a bad thing in the case of “Superintelligence”. Cinematographer Barry Peterson (“Game Night”) sets the scene in a routine manner, always keeps track of the more fast-paced moments (even though there is no major destruction despite the promising poster motif) and otherwise ensures pleasing, glossy Hollywood cinema. The production is less responsible for the heart and soul of this film, but rather the committed actors.
Conclusion: With the action comedy “Superintelligence”, director Ben Falcone achieves his most pleasant collaboration to date with actress Melissa McCarthy, who is allowed to do a lot more acting than making a fool of herself. Together with the likeable Bobby Cannavale and an acoustically always present James Corden, she manages to provide the plot, which is sometimes arbitrary despite the premise, with the necessary passion.
“Superintelligence” can be seen in USA cinemas from August 26, 2021.