There's a Dan Savage column-in-waiting about My Super Ex-Girlfriend, a seemingly harmless family comedy that's really about "pegging," a sex act that involves the woman, through the wonders of prosthesis, taking over the man's role in the sack. Figuratively speaking, right? Um, no. Watch which way the bed moves when controlling superheroine Uma Thurman goes to work on everyman schlub Luke Wilson. Who's the passer and who's the receiver? Of course, that's just one running gag, but usually only beer commercials spin so many jokes about male anxiety over women in power. The film seems at least partially self-aware, but director Ivan Reitman, whose comedic timing has dried up in a string of duds (Evolution, Fathers' Day, Kindergarten Cop) since the mid-'80s, mostly fails to seize on the opportunity. It's especially unfortunate, because the premise raises a provocative and potentially funny question: If Superman were a woman, are there any men who would want to be Lois Lane?
The mildest of mild-mannered performers, Wilson plays a sensitive architect looking to get back on the dating scene, but he lacks the confidence to lure attractive co-worker Anna Faris away from her thong-wearing model boyfriend. Prodded by his skirt-chasing buddy (The Office's Rainn Wilson, in a scene-stealing role), Wilson propositions nerdy wallflower Thurman on the subway train, under the logic that beneath that dowdy exterior is a wildcat ready to pounce. Needless to say, he gets more than he bargained for. It turns out that Thurman's Clark Kent routine is a guise for her role as G-Girl, an all-purpose Woman Of Steel who saves the city from disasters large and small. When her intense neuroses and jealousy become impossible to bear, Wilson tries to break off their relationship, but hell hath no fury like a superheroine scorned.
My Super Ex-Girlfriend gets a few good laughs off the idea that dating a sexy superhero sounds cool, but turns out to be a little emasculating and intense, exacerbated by the fact that superheroes are outcasts by nature and lack a certain social grace. Yet most of the jokes are left flapping like a fish on the line, delivered with zero energy by the leads (especially Wilson, who can be effectively deadpan, but tends to fall flat in Hollywood comedies) and Reitman, who's been treading water since 1984's Ghostbusters. In fact, confusing gender issues like the ones dredged up in Ex-Girlfriend call to mind another Reitman dud, the pregnant-Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy Junior, and the sophistication level has only slightly improved since then.