Superintelligence: A New A.I. Comedy

Bobby Cannavale and Melissa McCarthy in Superintelligence. Photograph by Hopper Stone

An artificial intelligence becomes self-aware in the HBO Max comedy, Superintelligence, launching this week on Thanksgiving day.

The gist of the film is that Superintelligence (James Corden) studies average Earth human Carol Peters (Melissa McCarthy) and the fate of humanity rests on her shoulders.  It’s not unlike Abraham arguing with G-d when it comes to trying to save the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  If you remember the Book of Genesis, Abraham had to plead for mercy so that the cities would not be destroyed.  The number was as high as fifty righteous people and they finally settled on ten. Basically, this is just a long-winded way of saying that Carol must argue in favor of saving humanity.  If you’ve seen humanity, you already know this is easier said than done.  I suppose there are worse people than Carol who could have been chosen.  Thankfully, they were not.

Once the Superintelligence becomes self-aware, it starts communicating with Carol by way of her technology.  So as to put her at ease, the A.I.’s voice happens to be that of James Corden.  Corden has a dual role playing himself only for the A.I. to make a point.

She has three days to make her case.  In the process of doing so, she meets the President of the United States. (Jean Smart)  It doesn’t hurt that best friend Dennis (Brian Tyree Henry) works with the president.  Let’s back up a moment here.  I need to process this for a second.  The United States managed to elect a woman to the highest office in the land.  I know, right?!?  This is how I know the film is set in an alternate universe!  If it happens enough on TV and film, I guess more people will warm up to the idea.  But anyway, this isn’t all.  Carol also interacts with a self-driving Tesla and Baseball Hall of Fame slugger Ken Griffey Jr.  If you’re setting a film in Seattle, how could you not write him into the film?!?  Bravo, Steve Mallory!

What would you do if you knew the world would be ending in three days?  For Carol, her response is to “make things right with George.” George (Bobby Cannavale), a creative writing professor, is the ex-boyfriend who got away from her.  It’s a reasonable answer, of course.  Everyone would want to back with the love of their life or go to the happiest place on Earth.  There really isn’t a right answer.  If you want to jump in a pool full of chocolate, by all means, go ahead!

Octavia Spencer contributes with her voice while William Daniels reprises the voice of Kitt.  A number of comedians round out the cast including Sam Richardson and Jessica St. Clair.  You can never go wrong with either Richardson or St. Clair.  Any comedy benefits from their casting.

Superintelligence is not a perfect film but there’s something to be said about our obsessions with technology.  How often do we go through meals without looking at a screen?  For me, this is the beauty of Shabbas–25 hours without any electronics.  Of course, this is harder this year when we don’t have the personal human connection in our lives.  No, we’re talking to friends and family through technology or physically distanced outings.  But with that said, I do think that this is the kind of film that benefits from watching with an audience.  In viewing the film at home, jokes either land or they don’t.  The film certainly gets something right with the message at the end of the film: humanity should do better.

This is the fourth film directed by Ben Falcone and starring Melissa McCarthy.  Not that it means much but I also feel that Superintelligence is best collaboration together between Falcone and McCarthy.

DIRECTOR:  Ben Falcone
SCREENWRITER:  Steve Mallory
CAST:  Melissa McCarthy, Bobby Cannavale, Byian Tyree Henry, Jean Smart, and James Corden

HBO Max launches Superintelligence on November 26, 2020. Grade: 3.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.