My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006)

(In theaters, August 2006) Note to twenty-first century filmmakers: If you have a clever premise and you’re capable of a pleasant execution, make damn sure that the core of your film isn’t based upon a festering pile of misogyny. In this case, consider the potential of a superhero film mixed with a romantic comedy. Now consider the skills of Ivan Reitman and Luke Wilson, neither of whom could offend anyone even under an extreme case of Tourette’s Syndrome. It all points to a nice little comedy fit to counter-program against Superman Returns, right? Well, half-right: My Super Ex-Girlfriend is considerably more interesting than the latest Superman, and most of its gags are perfect summer fare fodder: slightly naughty, accessible to everyone and completely innocuous. But don’t look too closely at the female characters because once you do, the ugly core of the film comes exposed: Females either come as humour-impaired harridans, pliant male-toys or hidden psychos. (Not the mention the old exasperating “brunettes with glasses are less attractive than blondes” clap-trap.) In your life, you probably know that guy who dismisses all of his girlfriends with the easy slam “she was psycho” caricature, not realizing that the insult tells us more about him than her. Well, My Super Ex-Girlfriend is a lot like that, exposing the core of misogyny that is still embraced by many so-called men out there. As a guy who really does like girls with backbones, I sat aghast at a third-act development in which the male characters actively conspire to rob the titular ex-girlfriend of her superpowers: why not throw in a lobotomy and a club-sized bottle of Prozac if you really want her to be so meek and compliant? Eeek. If I manage to stop hyperventilating, it’s true that the film eventually finds a harmless way out and a fun conclusion. But it takes a very unpleasant path to get there, and never quite shakes off its ugly side. Given that the rest of the film is so unremarkable (only a high-rise shark attack stands out as a sequence worthy of the film’s premise), let’s just say that this is one movie where occasional flaws more than manage to overwhelm the general amiability of the whole.

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