- Avengers; Age of Ultron
“New York is a city of millions, where a person can be neurotic without worrying that anyone will notice. Set in the Big Apple, My Super Ex-Girlfriend shows this to be true: all the characters are neurotic. No exceptions.
The Ivan Reitman directed movie opens with images of G-Girl, played by Uma Thurman, flying through the air, saving people in trouble, catching bank robbers and air-towing their car to the police station. Our first non-blurred glimpse of her shows G-Girl confident, powerful, and sexy. She’s everything a superhero is supposed to be. It’s when she falls into her alter ego Jenny Johnson that she has a problem. While the modern woman is expected to be strong, powerful, and beautiful, G-Girl is that all the time. Jenny wants someone to take care of her for a change. Enter Luke Wilson’s character Matt Saunders. He’s on his sixth month of no girlfriend after a break up with another crazy woman, and is pushed into talking to girls by his self-centered co-worker Vaughn, played by a misused Rainn Wilson. On a subway, Matt asks Jenny out, and she flat out refuses. And then her purse is stolen. Thus, the main conflict of the movie materializes.
The problem with alter egos is that they are a suppression of a powerful entity. Superheroes forced to live in society have to have a split personality. By definition, that’s a mental health problem people. How can someone act like a helpless victim when they have the power to rip anyone to shreds? We follow Matt as he runs in pursuit of the thief, but see his true cowardliness when he recovers the purse and hides from the purse snatcher in a dumpster. But, happy that someone helped her for a change, Jenny overlooks the dumpster escape and rewards him with a date, knowing he is no superhero.
Throughout the movie, it is funny and confusing as anything to watch Reitman try to resolve this split personality conflict. On their first date, Jenny works to seem normal and girlie. She talks meekly about art and then comes on strong giving Matt a harsh critique on his kissing techniques. Hence Jenny’s neurosis. One minute she is weak and an emotional wreck, then her confidence shows through. Matt can never be sure who he is dealing with, Jenny or G-Girl, after he learns her secret. After Jenny uses her superpowers to spy on him at work after she becomes jealous of his co-worker Hannah, played by a wonderfully cast Anna Faris, he dumps her. It is at this point that the movie picks up. The first half seems passionless and rushed, as though the writers knew where to go with the story, but no idea how to get there. I guess that’s why it wasn’t called My Super Girlfriend.
So, if hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, what about a woman who is made of the toughest substance known to man? Jenny is betrayed and hurt, and she wants to make Matt pay. She becomes the epitome of the psycho ex-girlfriend, but with super powers. She crashes through his apartment ceiling, sends his car into space, and even throws a shark through the window of Hannah’s apartment. It is Matt’s eventual fear of G-Girl that cracks whatever sense of normalcy he had, with hilarious consequences of course. One scene that sums up his problem is when he walks out of his apartment checking over his shoulder, then up at the sky to see if G-Girl is around. He has no safe place. He turns to G-Girl’s archenemy Professor Bedlam, played by Eddie Izzard, to help strip G-Girl of her powers. But, Bedlam is essentially only stalking G-Girl, who was his high school sweet heart. Bedlam was there when Jenny received her powers from an asteroid, which happened to interrupt Jenny and Barry’s loss of virginity when they were 17.
And that small detail is where Reitman gets it right. Jenny was interrupted in her teenage years. She went from dorky girl to supermodel superhero and had no time to process any of it. If her alter ego is needy and controlling, it’s because she was always needy and insecure, just wanting to be popular and pretty. The same goes for Bedlam, the only other superpower in the movie. He is essentially trapped in his teenage moment of being left behind and ignored. If anything, this movie is a good example of why people need to get over high school and move on.
In the final battle scenes, when good and evil clash (and you can decide who takes on those roles), the movie resolves itself on the catwalk of a fashion show after a cross-town cat fight. Is this a commentary on society here by having the superheroes be an example for supermodels? Or just a parody of the pettiness of what started the cat fight? Of course it all ends happily for everyone, and all becomes right with the world. G-Girl goes on to continue fighting crime, but accepts help from an unlikely ally. All in all, a ridiculously fun comedy that fills in the blanks between alter ego and superhero.
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