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Review: 'Superintelligence' Is Smart and Funny

by Kevin Taft
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Nov 26, 2020
Bobby Cannavale and Melissa McCarthy in 'Superintelligence'
Bobby Cannavale and Melissa McCarthy in 'Superintelligence'  

Directed by Ben Falcone, the Melissa McCarthy vehicle "Superintelligence" is a surprisingly charming and romantic comedy about compassion and kindness - something the world needs right now.

Carol Peters (McCarthy) is a woman who had a pretty great job in the business world but quit because she wanted to make the world a better place. In doing so, she's suffered the random odd job and can't seem to be in a place that allows her a steady paycheck and fulfillment. When her best friend Dennis (Brian Tyree Henry) tries to get her a job at a dating app, things don't go so well and she falls back into her life of uncertainty. That is until her electronics begin to speak to her in the voice of James Corden.

But it isn't Carol having a mental breakdown. It isn't actually James Corden invading her TV, toaster, or cell phone. It's a "super intelligence" that has decided to end the world in three days if it doesn't think that humanity is worth saving. In order to make this determination, it wants to follow Carol around to experience the world through her.

Obviously freaked out, Carol starts to loosen up as the Superintelligence gets her an apartment, a tricked-out Tesla, and millions of dollars in her bank account. But despite all that, when she's asked what's the one thing she would want to do before the world ends, she says she'd want to make things right between her and her ex-boyfriend George (Bobby Cannavale).

Here is where this high-concept sci-fi comedy slowly veers into a warm and touching romance that is sweet and kind and meaningful.

Sure, McCarthy is always up for some pratfalls and some zingy asides, but "Superintelligence" offers her the chance to once again show her softer side. It's what makes McCarthy such a special performer. She can make you laugh, but she can also make you genuinely feel something more powerful, all in a manner of seconds. She's so gifted at this dance, that, in other hands, this comedy could have just been a goofy lark. Instead, it's delightfully touching and wholly enchanting.

Falcone (McCarthy's husband and frequent collaborator) allows the chemistry between McCarthy and Cannavale to shine through, letting Cannavale once again to show us his sweeter side. There isn't a lot of flourish in Falcone's filmmaking, but the subject doesn't always demand it. It's whimsical when it needs to be, but mostly it allows the actors to take center stage and react to the craziness the story brings to the table.

If there is a weak link at all, Corden does seem to be a bit of a bland choice. In context, it makes sense, but the banter might have been more than chuckle-inducing had they gone with Octavia Spencer (whose voice makes a cameo) or someone with a little more edge to their voice work.

Despite that, "Superintelligence" is a delight. Instead of being about how smart we, or the A.I., is, the super intelligence here is emotional intelligence. And that is something we all could stand to expand and allow to become, well, super.

"Superintelligence" debuts on HBO Max November 26th.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.

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