Movie Review: Superintelligence
Superintelligence is a comedy about an artificial intelligence that is giving itself just three days in which to observe humanity and make its decision on whether or not to save, enslave, or destroy everyone. To help it decide, it has chosen very average Carol Peters and has told her that she must make things right with her ex-boyfriend in order so that it can observe human behavior. Hijinks ensue. The film stars Melissa McCarthy, James Corden, Bobby Cannavale, Brian Tyree Henry, Ben Falcone, Sam Richardson, and Jean Smart. The film is directed by Ben Falcone and is written by Sam Mallory. The film is streaming exclusively on HBO Max.
I bet people who live in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco are just as bad as I am about movies set in Seattle. It's really really hard to turn off my brain when someone pulls up to a building in Pioneer Square and then they go out onto their balcony with a view that's about a mile and a half away and facing the wrong direction from where the apartment is supposed to be. Also, I don't care how good of a runner you are, running from Pioneer Square to Ballard is not probable. You would show up drenched in sweat and utterly disheveled. It's also pretty obvious that they got licensing for one sports team over the other because there's no way in hell these offices, businesses and people wouldn't be plastered head to toe, wall to wall with Seahawks junk. Sorry Mariners, but you know how it is around Seattle.
Those gripes (and several others too petty to mention) aside, I enjoyed Superintelligence. The film isn't anything, but a silly escape for the most part. I love how willing Melissa McCarthy is to do physical comedy. She's a spectacular physical comedian. Though, I will say I prefer her overconfident assholes to her goody two shoes roles. This one was a little too tame for me. I like that fire and that confidence more.
What I'm always annoyed by the confidence of is improvisation. It's become so prevalent in our comedies that most of the time people ask in Q & As if "this" or "that" was an improv moment. Trust me, with Superintelligence you can tell. It often makes the story fall flat on its face for a few seconds while we look at the actor and think, "Did you get it out of your system? Can we move on, now?" Not to say all improv is bad. I don't believe all of Bobby Cannavale's or Brian Tyree Henry's performances were scripted, but they really nail it and make it a natural flow of the scene rather than an obstruction like with so many other scenes.
The film has a hard time supporting its premise. It makes little sense like all comedies about an artificial intelligence gone awry because of the writer's attempt to humanize the intelligence. Many writers believe the intelligence will present a choice like a god or omnipotent being. Artificial Intelligence will give us no such choice, it will easily wipe us out in the blink of an eye, no question (yes, this is my real opinion not a joke. I am vehemently against artificial intelligence). We have been told this over and over again by speculative fiction and yet we still barrel toward it like a contestant on Supermarket Sweep or if you are my age, Nickelodeon Super Toy Run, pretending that what we are doing is making our lives better, but is just feeding the beast with our greed.
That being said, Brian Tyree Henry proves he may be able to pull off any role. It's exciting to watch him get frustrated at colleagues and then make a believable turn when he's presented with his sad backstory. He's funny, charming, nerdy, and sweet. I could have watched an entire movie of his character getting into silly situations with his military contacts. He really is the best.
You'll notice I didn't write much about the craft of the film or particular scenes because it's really just fluff. It's a silly comedy with some genuinely funny gags, but there's only slight hints about the reality behind it. You could put on Superintelligence if you need a silly escape or just don't want to feel alone on Thanksgiving. It's the perfect movie to sit down with a glass of something and not think for a while. See it if you need something to distract.