Released: 17th December
Seen: 23rd December
The idea of technology gaining sentience and turning evil is old hat at this point. Chances are good that you’ve seen something that’s used this as a foundation for the narrative, be it the iconic 2001 A Space Odyssey or the recent Child’s Play remake or even some episodes of the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror (the ones with either the killer Krusty doll or the Pierce Brosnan murder house). It’s a classic bit of Sci-fi that is usually just a twist on the old Frankenstein tale, in that a thing man created is what will actually destroy man. It’s a interesting little idea that can end up creating some interesting stories… unless you give the AI the voice of Bustopher Jones from Cats and then we might have a problem.
Superintelligence follows the perfectly average Carol (Melissa McCarthy), a former corporate executive who now spends her time doing assorted bits of charity work. She’s just living her very average life when suddenly there’s a voice from her toaster oven, the voice of James Corden. Technically it’s not actually James Corden but an incredible superintelligence that has gained sentience and just picked the voice of James Corden because that’s Carol’s favourite celebrity.
The superintelligence wants to learn about humanity and what’s so good about it and has picked Carol to help learn that lesson. If Carol can prove that humanity is good then the superintelligence will give humanity the tools needed to save itself, but if Carol fails then all the nukes go off and the world ends… did I mention he has the voice of James Corden while doing this because I swear that’s only brought up about 7000 times and it only slightly made me want to jam an ice pick into my head.
If you, like me, are tired of James Corden in movies then just wait till you sit through this because I have never seen a film be in such romantic love with one of its main stars. I can’t even think about the main plot right now (which is just a forgettable retread of something I saw done better in God, The Devil and Bob but I’ll get to that) because I have to talk about how I basically just watched Superintelligence give a 90 minute BJ to the talk show host best known for the parts of his show that aren’t talking!
Look, I get that Superintelligence wants to try and use the image of someone well known as part of a joke about how people will do pretty much anything if they believe a celebrity is telling them to do it… or at least, that’s what I assume the point was meant to be but clearly the guy who’s last writing job was a series on Quibi didn’t know how to make that joke happen, so the voice is James Corden because he was probably available to do a day’s recording session.
The main voice being James Corden doesn’t lead to any good jokes (unless having the main character get into a car and go “Is this Carpool Karaoke?” counts as a joke and my lawyers say it doesn’t) or any fun scenarios, it’s just there. “It’s just there” also describes literally everything else about Superintelligence that apparently started shooting in 2018 but you could convince me it was made in 2015 based on how tired the jokes are. Hell, you can almost tell this has been on ice for a while because the president in this film is a clear Hillary Clinton parody including a bit where her phone gets them in trouble… see, it’s funny because I’m dead on the inside!
The actual plot itself is just bland, it’s literally the series God, The Devil and Bob where some all-powerful being picks one schlub to represent humanity and will destroy everything if they don’t prove that humanity is good actually (You’d think an all-powerful being that lives on the internet would take one look at Twitter and launch the nukes, but no luck there) except this version of the story doesn’t want good deeds or displays of kindness… no, it’s an elaborate version of Tinder that wants to get Carol back with her ex-boyfriend George (Bobby Cannavale), meaning this film wants to save the world with the power of love.
It introduces this section of the plot about a third into the film and never does anything interesting with it. Like, you could remove the AI from the film (please, someone remove the AI from this film) and it would make a minimal change to the romantic subplot where they meet in a grocery store, go on a bad dinner date and that’s it. It’s not interesting, it’s cute because Melissa McCarthy and Bobby Cannavale have a surprising amount of chemistry and charm that make the scenes with them a lot cuter than they’re written to be, but it’s not interesting.
And we fly right back to the main problem being the constant love of Corden. I just can’t get over it, there’s no joke to him being there other than occasionally having his face appear in advertisements around town and using that to talk to Carol but they don’t make any jokes about him. Maybe Seed of Chucky spoiled me on this but if you’re going to have an actor effectively play themselves, or at least a character we’re meant to know is a parody of themselves, they should be able to make jokes at their own expense and that never happens here. Just one Cats joke might’ve helped, that’s all I’m saying.
But that would be me implying that Superintelligence actually has good jokes and it really doesn’t. There are some mildly amusing scene ideas and some cute scenes but in general the film is just wasting a good idea and good actors in favour of playing to the cheap seats with cheap uninteresting ideas. You can certainly see where this might’ve possibly worked with a few rewrites and actually embracing the comedic potential of the concept, but the film itself is just there and barely holding itself together.