Movies have not been kind to the ex-girlfriend. If she appears at the beginning of a movie, she’s usually caught cheating and sent to the reject pile. (For a good example, see the opening scene to “Old School.”) If she exists anywhere else in the movie, she’s usually a deviant, an ice queen, or a complete and utter mess. (See Stacy from the movie classic “Wayne’s World,” a character who, in her earnest desire to please Wayne, forever stigmatized gifting a gun rack.)
In movies, the ex-girlfriend exists only to look bad in comparison to some well-balanced, totally non embittered ingénue. New love interest gets top billing. Ex-girlfriend’s name is way down in the credits. New love interest gets triumphant final kiss from leading man. Best case scenario for ex-girlfriend is making out with Steve Buscemi.
Enter Jenny Johnson, an ex-girlfriend who’s not going out like that. In fact, as her superhero alter-ego, G-Girl, she’s not going out at all. At least not until she makes Luke Wilson regret a few things. G-Girl is not the kind of ex who calls your house and hangs up. She’s not even the kind of ex who gets your car towed. G-Girl’s revenge tactics include shark throwing, flagrant automobile lifting, and terrorizing new girlfriends through unusual demonstrations of superhuman force. Great power may mean great responsibility to some, but to a woman scorned —especially one who can twist metal with her bare hands — it generally means giving your rotten ex his due, and then some.
Every woman is somebody’s ex-girlfriend. It’s a wonder then that, until “My Super Ex-Girlfriend,” no one thought to put an ex-girlfriend front and center, as the star of her own movie. After all, ex-girlfriends are first rate entertainment. They’re unpredictable, emotional, and possess a precarious balance of good and evil that makes for edge of your seat cinema.
The ex-girlfriend also has audience appeal. This summer, men may watch Superman and fantasize about leaping tall buildings and wooing Kate Bosworth, but women can watch “My Super Ex-Girlfriend” and enjoy their own little fantasy — transforming themselves from easily discarded nice girls into bombshell avengers.
Boyfriend with wandering eyes? Smug new girlfriends? To the jilted of the world, these are the equivalent of snakes on Samuel L. Jackson’s plane. And, at least vicariously through G-Girl, it’s a good bet that women will line up to see them removed, through any means necessary.
Yep, breaking up really is hard to doBreak-ups are miserable. There is always some fallout. In a best case scenario, your ex-girlfriend has a few mix CDs and your favorite sweatshirt. At worst, she’s going to slash your tires and make sly insinuations about your social diseases at her next cocktail party. That’s all well and good, because ex-girlfriend behaviors in general, however superficially frightening and momentarily humiliating, usually don’t cross over into the restraining order zone. Even the most mistreated woman usually reads a few self-help books, watches some Oprah, and ultimately takes the high road, albeit after a few nights of egging your house.
But Uma Thurman’s G-Girl throws out the rule book. She really is the scariest thing in the world: a scorned woman with unbelievable power and not much else on her mind. For Luke Wilson, there’s no way to win, and even some question if he’ll get out alive.
To any woman who has been wronged or underestimated, it’s viscerally satisfying to watch Jenny Johnson physically transform from victim to victor, from frumpy and needy librarian type to no-holds-barred super vixen. It’s like a makeover on daytime TV, only better, because makeovers on daytime TV are rarely followed by dispensation of vigilante justice. In a summer filled with cinematic machismo, anyone who carries even a sliver of their miffed inner ex-girlfriend can enjoy watching the tables turned on such a grand, unbelievable scale.
“My Super Ex-Girlfriend” may be a bit of escapist summer cinema, but within that fluff there just may be real-world implications. Men can laugh at Uma Thurman’s outrageous revenge tactics, even as a seed of fear is being planted. What if you messed with the wrong woman? We’re not talking the kind of woman who drives by your house a few times and sort of creeps you out. We’re talking the kind of woman who can burn off your eyebrows with heat-rays from her fingers, or who can toss you like a rag doll into the next county. Wouldn’t you think twice before pulling any funny stuff?
Vengeance with a smileSimilarly, women can ponder their own “what ifs.” What would they do as super ex girlfriends?
Perhaps he thinks you’re needy? Old girlfriend would plead her case through drunken phone calls. Super ex-girlfriend doesn’t bother with that and dumps his car in a river.
He thinks you’re controlling? Old girlfriend orders him 100 pizzas then waits outside to watch. Super ex-girlfriend skips the adolescent pranks and makes sure he wakes up hanging from the top of the Statue of Liberty.
He thinks you’re jealous? Old girlfriend crash diets then dates his best friend. Super ex-girlfriend cuts to the chase — wears leather, has shark eat new girlfriend. For some reason, however wrong, sick and disturbing, the cartoon scale of Jenny Johnson’s vengeance is empowering. No mess, no fuss. No gun racks.
True, most ex-girlfriends would never wish destruction or any real harm upon someone who wronged them. But “My Super Ex-Girlfriend” does provide some long-due justice for anyone who has ever been cast as the Lara Flynn Boyle to someone else’s Tia Carrere. Sure, there’s a thin line between moral avenger and crazy stalker but, at the movies, it’s cathartic to let it get a little blurry. As for the gentlemen: Let “My Super-Ex Girlfriend” be a warning to you. Even if she doesn’t have super powers, she may have your pin number, and that’s plenty scary in and of itself.