20TH CENTURY FOX
My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Directed by Ivan Reitman
With Uma Thurman, Luke Wilson
There’s a scene toward the end of the latest Ivan Reitman film, “My Super Ex-Girlfriend,” when Luke Wilson and Eddie Izzard are found standing together as their superhero female companions fly away to avert an impending disaster.
They look up wistfully, sigh at the fact they are left carrying their girlfriends’ purses and resign themselves to relax and have a beer because they know there is nothing they can do to help.
This moment encapsulates the entire spirit of Reitman’s best film for years (and maybe the best action/comedy attempt since “Men In Black”), because it pokes gentle fun at the stereotype that macho action heroes have to save their damsels in distress. This is the classic date movie: a romantic comedy featuring a superhero that female viewers can identify with that still contains enough sex jokes and snippets of action to keep the guys interested.
While the gender-bending concept is what will grab headlines, this film works well because of solid casting, a good mix of one-liners and physical comedy and a taut runtime that never makes the film feel forced.
The movie works primarily because of character chemistry. This begins with the inspired choice of Uma Thurman to play the title role of Jenny Johnson, aka G-Girl. In recent years, the “Kill Bill” series has provided Thurman a renaissance as the archetype female actress for strong action roles, but this movie delves deeper into the personality of a superhero by portraying the title character as not just strong and confident, but also geeky and moody.
If this sounds all too familiar to Superman fans, then you might be disappointed to know that this comedy does a much better job at showing the difficult balance between being an unappreciated savior and trying to lead a normal life under an alias than the more overwrought superhero film of the summer.
More importantly, this movie is simply a lot more fun. Thurman is backed by a solid supporting cast, including Wilson as Jenny’s love interest, Izzard as Jenny’s former-friend-turned-nemesis, Anna Farris as Wilson’s co-worker, friend and possible new girlfriend, and relative newcomer Rainn Wilson (no relation to Luke) as Wilson’s sex-crazed best friend.
Luke Wilson, who first took a major star turn as the lovable everyman in “Old School,” is back playing a similar character in this film. His performance is adequate for the role, but it’s nothing exceptional. He is regularly overshadowed by Rainn Wilson and Izzard, who pepper the movie with witty comebacks and memorable facial expressions. That said, Luke Wilson does, after a mid-coital bed collapse, deliver the funniest line in the movie.
Farris, best known as the ditzy girl from the “Scary Movie” series and the Ryan Reynolds’ vehicle “Just Friends,” plays it straight here to good effect and foreshadows a possible later career as a more dramatic actress.
The film’s one major failing is its woeful under-use of Izzard, who stands out in both his interaction with other characters and his back story with Thurman. A battle between his Professor Bedlam and G-Girl early in the movie would have developed their relationship better than a peripheral mention of their past conflicts.
Overall, “My Super Ex-Girlfriend” is surprisingly entertaining. In a summer full of spectacular battles featuring super mutants and aliens, sometimes the best films are light on the melodrama and heavy on the chuckles.