Can a superhero have a healthy, happy relationship
with a mere mortal? And, if it doesn’t work out, could he/she
be counted on to bow out gracefully?
Filmmaker Ivan Reitman addresses those burning questions - and more about the dating habits of the high-flying, world-saving set - in his new big-screen comedy, "My Super Ex-Girlfriend," shot in Brooklyn’s Steiner Studios. And, as one might deduce from the title, he comes to the conclusion that courting someone with extraordinary powers isn’t necessarily all it’s cracked up to be.
GO Brooklyn recently talked to the 60-year-old "Animal House" and "Stripes" director about his latest flick, a romantic comedy about Matt, a nice, normal New Yorker (Luke Wilson), who incurs the wrath of his gorgeous, super-powered lover, G-Girl (Uma Thurman), when he tries to break up with her because she is too needy and possessive.
"Scary Movie" alum Anna Faris plays Matt’s new love interest, while "The Office" star Rainn Wilson plays his creepy best friend and British comedian Eddie Izzard plays G-Girl’s nemesis.
"I wanted to do a romantic comedy and, you know, it’s really hard to do an original one, to find some new twist on the girl and boy story," Reitman explained. "This has all the elements of a classic romantic comedy; except it has one sci-fi element, and that’s that one character has these special powers and that shifts all of the dynamics between the men and the women in the story. I thought there was a great opportunity for comedy in that."
Whereas Spider-Man and Mary Jane and Superman and Lois Lane have historically agonized over whether to consummate their on-screen relationships, Matt and G-Girl throw caution to the wind, plunging full-tilt into their own love affair, even having sex while flying over Times Square. Despite the obvious perks, it isn’t long before Matt sees the downside of dating a woman with a secret identity.
A life-long fan of comic books and the movies they have inspired, Reitman admits Don Payne’s script for this film appealed to him, in part, because he personally had always wondered what would happen if a superhero gave in to his crush on an ordinary person.
"I thought, ’There’re great opportunities here if I ground it in reality and set it in a real place and not some mythical Metropolis,’" Reitman noted. "I certainly have a love for [comic books] that sort of goes back to when I was a kid, but at the same time, it is silly to be religious about this stuff. I’m making a romantic comedy, and my job here was not to make fun of - and we don’t - the superhero ethic.
"I just started asking questions: If you are going to make love to someone, and you just met them, and you take your clothes off, oh, my God! You’ve got a costume on underneath. And that could be a big problem: just how she conducts her real life. Is it possible to have a real relationship?"
Mixing it up
For the former stage and TV producer, who moved with his family from Czechoslovakia to Canada when he was five, making films that mix genres is nothing new.
"You have to get the tone just right," said Reitman. "I found that - when I look at my body of work from ’Ghostbusters,’ with movies like ’Twins,’ ’Dave,’ ’Evolution’ and ’Six Days, Seven Nights’ - I was like, ’I’m really into this!’ And even with silly movies like ’Space Jam.’ I obviously have a thing for genre-mixing."
Although primarily a comedy, the subject matter of "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" calls for some special effects, namely fighting and flying scenes. Reitman says he is impressed with how far technology has come since he made "Ghostbusters" in 1984, but emphasizes effects mean nothing if they aren’t used to complement an intriguing story and characters the audience cares about.
"They’re spectacular, but who cares about special effects, finally?" he mused. "I can say that because I’ve made four or five movies that have had strong effects elements to them. I think there is nothing duller than showing off one’s effects capabilities.
"I think it’s extraordinary what we can do, and it’s a wonderful gift, a wonderful tool, but it means nothing unless it’s toward telling a good story with interesting characters. That’s what we hook into as an audience. We care about people; what they are thinking, what they are feeling.
"What do we feel when we watch it? Not, ’Oh, my God, I can’t believe that tidal wave is going to take Manhattan!’ Yeah, that’s fine for a minute or two, but after that, it’s the human story you care about. "
Made in Brooklyn
Reitman says he was quite pleased to find the Navy Yard’s Steiner Studios capable of meeting all his needs, including the special effects end of the project.
"I think it’s a great facility addition in New York," he said. "I’ve made five movies in New York, and this is the first one I did from top to bottom here. We had flying sequences, and we had some other complicated sequences we had to shoot. Those are some really big-time stages, and I think they’re great."
So, did trashing New York City streets for comic effect make Reitman nostalgic for the days he worked on "Ghostbusters"?
"This is a great city to shoot in," Reitman said. "What makes me nostalgic for ’Ghostbusters’ is to work with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis; that was the joy of working on ’Ghostbusters’ and ’Ghostbusters II.’ They’ve become old friends. That’s what you miss. It’s not staging a marshmallow man walking down Columbus Circle; that’s a pain in the ass. It’s much better getting them all in a room and doing something funny."
"My Super Ex-Girlfriend" is now playing at the Bay Ridge Alpine Cinemas [6817 Fifth Ave. at 68th Street, (718) 748-4200]. Call the theater for more information about schedules and ticket prices.
©2006 Community News Group
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