These days, with moviegoing being the way that it is, it’s hard to grasp whether a film is being sent to streaming due to the studio not having faith in it, or simply because they’re doing the best they can with the amazing product they have. I’m a huge fan of Melissa McCarthy and always look forward to the next starring role she chooses, but SUPERINTELLIGENCE (2020) was the final nail in the coffin for films being directed by her husband, Ben Falcone. To be honest, I don’t mind him as an actor in comedies, but when it comes to directing, I just don’t think he chooses the right projects. I didn’t like their first outing together in TAMMY (2014), I liked THE BOSS (2016) even less, and LIFE OF THE PARTY (2018) was too tame to enjoy. While I have to admit that SUPERINTELLIGENCE is probably the best film they have made together.
The film begins with Carol Peters (Melissa McCarthy) enjoying her average, everyday lifestyle, when a new piece of A.I. decides to invade her life, controlling and manipulating her, with the ultimate goal of destroying and ending the world. Movies like this have been attempted a few times now over the last couple of years, but nothing will ever come closer to the lightning in a bottle Spike Jonze made with his film HER. I mildly enjoyed 2019s JEXI, but that was also a throwaway film that wasn’t memorable at all. On top of feeling like an imitation, it also tries to balance drama and comedy far too often. The climax of the film decides to get completely serious and I just didn’t buy any of it. With all of that said, the saving graces were easily the duo of Melissa McCarthy and Bobby Cannavale.
Whether you’re talking about films like CHEF (2014), BLUE JASMINE (2013), DANNY COLLINS (2015), and even ANT-MAN (2015), Bobby Cannavale has become one of my favorite actors in supporting roles. His charisma in nearly every role he has ever taken always leaps off the screen to me. SUPERINTELLIGENCE gets off to a plodding start and his character doesn’t really appear in the film until about halfway through, but I instantly started liking the film a little more and giving certain things a pass when McCarthy and Cannavale were on-screen together. I was able to buy into their history and thought their scenes elevated the film immensely overall. Sadly, their presence is all that saved this one from me hating it, which I usually don’t say about many films.
I think the screenplay written by Steve Mallory is the main issue here. In retrospect after looking up his previous efforts, he has appeared in very small roles in many of Melissa McCarthy’s films and has only ever written one other Hollywood film in THE BOSS. To me, that just says this crew had a bunch of fun making a movie together, which is great and all, but the movie is not a reflection of that fun. There was also something about the overall tone that just felt off to me. The movie looked and felt like a comedy, but the majority of it is a complete drama.
In the end, SUPERINTELLIGENCE takes familiar ideas and runs with them in ways that do not mesh well together. I was bored by how slow the first act was, became slightly more interested when she started to interact with more humans but was ultimately let down by how anti-climactic the conclusion was. Movies that have unique premises that do not go the extra mile to stand out are more frustrating to me than films that try very hard and fail. I saw potential here, but not enough was done to impress me overall. SUPERINTELLIGENCE is now streaming on through HBO, and even more the most hardcore Melissa McCarthy fans, I really can’t recommend this one.