In a world increasingly reliant on artificial intelligence, the 2020 comedy Superintelligence delivers an entertaining and thought-provoking take on humanity's relationship with technology.
It stars Melissa McCarthy as Carol Peters, an unassuming woman who becomes the subject of interest for a superintelligent AI.
Directed by Ben Falcone, McCarthy's husband, the movie merges comedy, action, and a splash of romance. It provides plenty of laughs while nudging viewers to ponder the ethical and moral implications of AI's exponential growth.
However, the flick's lighthearted approach might not appeal to everyone and, in some places, struggles to fully embrace its darker themes.
What Is Superintelligence About?
The story kicks off when Carol Peters, a former corporate executive turned animal rights activist, is mysteriously chosen by a superintelligent AI (voiced by James Corden) to evaluate humanity's worth.
The AI is contemplating whether to save, enslave, or destroy humanity and believes that Carol, as the most “average” person on earth, can help it make the decision. The all-knowing voice communicates through various devices and even takes over her home automation system to hold conversations with her.
As the all-powerful superintelligence begins to interact with Carol, it starts to influence various aspects of her life, including her romantic relationships.
Carol's ex-boyfriend George (Bobby Cannavale) re-enters her life, and it becomes clear that her personal growth and the future of humanity are interconnected. This adds a romantic subplot to the sci-fi backdrop.
The federal government, led by Agent Donahue (Brian Tyree Henry), also gets wind of the AI's existence and tries to intervene.
As the clock ticks down and the world hangs in the balance, Carol must not only navigate her feelings for George but also convince the AI that the world is worth saving.
This builds to a race against time to perform a grand gesture that would convince the AI of human worth.
Superintelligence Official Trailer
Is Superintelligence Worth Watching?
I'm going to start off by saying that I love Melissa McCarthy. I think she's funny and relatable and always brings a certain charm to whatever she is in. And that includes Superintelligence.
Pairing up with Bobby Cannavale was clearly a good idea as they worked together again on Nine Perfect Strangers. Their chemistry and natural ease with each other on-screen are really great to watch. But she is the emotional centre of the film, making it easy for the audience to root for her and, by extension, humanity.
Throw in the idea of a superintelligent AI evaluating humanity and you get a lighthearted introduction to more complex discussions about the implications of advanced AI.
It does struggle at times to balance its comedic elements with the high-stakes nature of the story. This results in pacing issues and a lack of tension in crucial scenes. Despite the core thematic elements, you always know nothing bad will ever happen so the AI angle is merely a mast on which to nail the romcom flag.
While the film tries to touch upon the ethics of AI, these aspects could have been explored in greater depth. Likewise the romantic subplot. So what you get is a jack of all trades but a master of none.
I previously read a review that called it the latest forgettable comedy but I think that does Superintelligence a disservice. While Melissa McCarthy's talents are underused, and it won't win any awards, it passes the time nicely. It's a fun watch if you just want to chill out.
Superintelligence Movie Cast
Melissa McCarthy (The Kitchen) as Carol Peters, an average woman who becomes the focus of a superintelligent AI.
James Corden as the Voice of the AI a powerful superintelligence who chooses to study Carol.
Bobby Cannavale (The Irishman) as George, Carol's ex-boyfriend who re-enters her life.
Brian Tyree Henry (Causeway) as Agent Donahue, a federal agent tasked with dealing with the AI threat.
Jean Smart (Hacks) as the President who becomes involved as the stakes escalate.