“Superintelligence” is Melissa McCarthy’s fourth film collaboration with director/husband Ben Falcone. Previous efforts “Tammy”, “The Boss” and “Life of the Party” all underperformed in the humor department. This latest venture fits right in line.
“Superintelligence” was shot more than two years ago. It initially had a Christmas 2019 theatrical release target. But last Fall, McCarthy and Falcone decided it would be better to take the movie out of theaters and instead debut it on Warner Bros.’ (then) new streaming service HBO Max (again, this was done well before COVID-19 entered the picture).
Since it’s been in the can for a while, “Superintelligence” does feel dated. The reliance on Alexa and fears of artificial intelligence taking over our lives are so… yesterday. Steve Mallory’s screenplay fails to provide a fresh spin on the subject.
McCarthy plays Carol. Her Seattle house is filled with all the modern gadgets and gizmos. One day, “Superintelligence” takes over all her devices. It speaks to Carol using the voice of James Corden (because Carol is a fan). Not only does Corden deliver loads of dialogue as this A.I. presence, but his name and career are referenced heavily throughout the film. He even makes a few appearances – as himself. It’s all a bit much.
Superintelligence is debating whether or not to destroy the world. To get a better understanding of the human race he chooses Carol to observe for a few days. So the fate of the planet rests on how Carol’s life goes. As you might guess, it’s not a smooth ride.
This concept is not exactly fresh. Even so, the first half is filled with long, drawn-out, talky, explanatory scenes as the A.I. gets to know Carol, friend Dennis (Brian Tyree Henry) and others. And the virtual assistant constantly guides Carol on where to go and what to do.
Eventually we get to what is supposed to be the ultimate point: trying to get Carol and ex-boyfriend George (Bobby Cannavale) back together. Pals McCarthy and Cannavale have a comfortable chemistry and their scenes (without outside influence from Corden or anyone else) are the strength of “Superintelligence”. One includes a cameo by former MLB superstar Ken Griffey, Jr. It’s the most successful “pop culture” moment in a movie with an overabundance of pop culture references.
I maybe chuckled a half dozen times during “Superintelligence”. McCarthy asks a lot of questions and gets into some awkward situations. At times this feels like a low-grade version of her 2015 Paul Feig movie “Spy”. The actress running and falling down for laughs… or attempting to sit on a giant bean bag chair and falling off for laughs… I’m not sure that ever worked. It certainly doesn’t anymore.