In this new Melissa McCarthy comedy, directed by her husband and frequent collaborator Ben Falcone (who has a supporting role), she plays Carol, described by another character as “the most average person on earth.” This pronouncement catches the ear of a roving artificial intelligence — one that travels from smartphone to TV to rice cooker at will — which decides on Carol, a former Silicon Valley star turned do-gooder, as its test subject.
Taking on the voice of Carol’s favorite celeb, James Corden (who stars as his own voice), the “superintelligence,” a.k.a. the A.I., gives Carol a big bank account, a self-driving car and a snazzy apartment. In return, she must teach it about humanity. If it doesn’t like what it learns, it will end the human race.
“Jexi” meets “The Day the Earth Stood Still” it is, then. Carol’s task is to revive her failed romance with George, a good-natured academic played good-naturedly by Bobby Cannavale. The countdown to extinction hooks up with what film scholars call the “comedy of remarriage.” (That is, the happy relitigation of a stalled alliance.) And the movie saunters between these two modes with minimal rhyme or reason. The couple is placed, to visual advantage, in many attractive Seattle locations — the city has never looked more sparkly than it does here.
This is a movie of bits, enacted by varied comic luminaries. McCarthy’s “who me?” winsomeness, running neck and neck with her quick-witted cheekiness, is familiar. A new dynamic is added by the inspired Brian Tyree Henry, who, as Carol’s best friend and digital guru, hilariously crushes on the movie’s American president (Jean Smart).
“This is nice — they’re nice people,” Falcone’s character, an F.B.I. agent tailing Carol, says while observing Carol and George at play. That is about the best recommendation one can give “Superintelligence.”
Rated PG for impending apocalypse and language. Running time: 1 hour 46 minutes. Watch on HBO Max.