Fri, Aug 18, 2006 - Page 17 News List

Bunny-boiler heroine saves the day, but loses her man

By Manohla Dargis  /  NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

Not all girlfriends are made equal. In My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Anna Faris is given a hard time by Uma Thurman.

PHOTO COURTESY OF FOX MOVIES

The shaky comedy My Super Ex-Girlfriend must have been a dream to pitch: Fatal Attraction meets Wonder Woman, but funny. The casting seems as if it should have been equally breezy, with Uma Thurman doing double duty as a New York neurotic, Jenny Johnson, and a secret superhero, G-Girl, who flies through the air putting out fires, though only when her drab brown hair turns a costly shade of Hamptons blond.

Toss in Luke Wilson as the nice guy who says and does all the right things and Rainn Wilson as the second banana who says and does all the wrong ones. Stir, or, in the case of the director Ivan Reitman, of Ghostbusters fame, hope for the best.

Why G-Girl and not G-Woman? For the same reason that this particular superhero can access her powers only after she slips on something tighter and a whole lot less comfortable-looking: she's a joke. Whether you laugh at this joke will depend on whether you think the film says more about men than women (which it does), and whether you find its characterization of the spurned she-devil a sexist cliche (which it is) or an amusing sexist cliche (which it also is, reservedly).

A pasty Luke Wilson plays Matt Saunders, a single guy who has one of those dream jobs and Manhattan pads that seem to exist only in the minds of Hollywood filmmakers. One day on the subway Matt, spurred on by his pal Vaughn (Rainn Wilson), strikes up a conversation with a woman busily paying no mind to anyone else. Before long, he and the stranger he first knows as an art dealer, then as a crusader, are tussling in one of the kinkier sex scenes to earn a PG-13 rating in the US, as in: “parents strongly cautioned” that Jenny makes like a battering ram, executing night moves that crack the wall, break the bed and leave her dazed partner rather unbelievably intact. And, yes, there are jokes about that superhero name.

Film Notes:

My Super Ex-girlfriendDirected by Ivan ReitmanRunning time: 110 minutesStarring: Uma Thurman (Jenny Johnson/G-Girl), Luke Wilson (Matt Saunders), Anna Faris (Hannah Lewis), Eddie Izzard (Professor Bedlam/Barry), Rainn Wilson (Vaughn Haige), Wanda Sykes (Carla Dunkirk)Running time: 110 minutesTaiwan release: Today


Matt's postcoital smile and a wobbly walk that brings to mind Jake Gyllenhaal's first morning-after in Brokeback Mountain suggest that, however physically demanding, Jenny is a keeper. Alas, as if by clockwork or the professional lout's handbook, she turns out to be wildly insecure, possessive, needy, the whole crazy-woman nine yards, which means that, at least as far as the filmmakers are concerned, she's both a drag and a threat.

It also means that before too long she's history, soon replaced in Matt's affections by the nice, naturally blond Hannah (Anna Faris). Those who rooted for Glenn Close, even while admitting that the boiled bunny was a wee bit excessive, may enjoy the sight of G-Girl punching a skylight into her ex's ceiling.

The screenwriter Don Payne, a writer on The Simpsons here earning his first big-screen credit, may not have had Close, much less the Sonic Youth frontwoman Kim Gordon, in mind when he wrote this film. But he might as well have since, unwittingly or not, it perfectly expresses what Gordon once called the “fear of a female planet.”

In My Super Ex-Girlfriend, G-Girl rockets around saving the day in skirts and high heels like some nitro-fueled Carrie Bradshaw, outshining her dweeb of a boyfriend at every turn. So of course he dumps her. Who cares? Good riddance to bad-boyfriend rubbish. This super chick may be super nuts, but when trouble comes calling, as it tends to do in the big city, who you gonna call? Wall-buster!

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