There is a plot to work through, though, and it is oddly convoluted. Carol was a high-tech big wig who chucked it all to live a more altruistic existence, volunteering at Seattle pet adoptions and such. (Falcone loves his filler aerial shots of Seattle. You’ll feel as if you’ve seen the entire city—and parts of Newcastle and Whidbey Island—by the time this thing is done.) Henry plays her best friend, Dennis, a high-tech guru who exists primarily so she has someone to talk to on the phone.
One day, an all-seeing, all-knowing voice starts talking to her through her TV, cell phone and rice maker. It sounds like Corden in an effort to soothe her when she freaks out. This naturally leads to hackneyed Carpool Karaoke bit in which McCarthy belts out the Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week” not once but twice over the course of the movie. (And now this song is stuck in your head, too. I’m so sorry.) It’s a supercomputer that became sentient, and now is trying to decide whether or not to eviscerate humanity and start over. Carol, as his test subject, is the planet’s only hope.
It’s the kind of high-concept idea you’d see in an ‘80s comedy—something like “Electric Dreams,” where the computer tries to understand what makes people tick. But instead of being playful or satirical—or, god forbid, insightful—“Superintelligence” is crammed with uninspired jokes that go on forever, such as Carol wandering the halls at Microsoft when she visits Dennis at work because she can’t find the exit. This is also the kind of movie that’s got a ton of pop culture references, but it doesn’t trust its audience enough to get them on our own, so it spells them out for us afterward. It’s not enough to play the instantly recognizable bum-bum sound effect from “Law & Order.” Carol has to tell us it’s the bum-bum sound effect from “Law & Order.” During a meeting to hash out a plan to contain the A.I., the Tic Tac Toe board from “WarGames” pops up on the screen, along with the famous line from that ‘80s classic: “Shall we play a game?” So of course someone in the conference room has to tell us this is a “WarGames” reference. “Knight Rider,” the Beyonce “Single Ladies” dance, it goes on and on, and the hand-holding would be aggravating if this movie weren’t so incredibly weak. (There is exactly pop-culture joke that made me laugh, and it’s in a reference to “The Help,” and that’s all I will say.)
Besides stocking Carol’s bank account with millions of dollars, giving her a makeover and moving her into a luxurious penthouse with spectacular views—all to compensate her for her trouble—the James Corden voice also orchestrates a reunion with her ex. Cannavale plays a professor named George, the one who got away, but there’s as little to him as there is to her. He’s weirdly goofy. His primary character trait is his adolescent obsession with Ken Griffey Jr., which leads to an awkward cameo from the Hall of Famer at a Mariners game. McCarthy and Cannavale have all the romantic spark of two strangers standing in line for tickets to the Space Needle. Then again, they have practically nothing to work with.