LOS ANGELES, Nov. 26 (UPI) — Melissa McCarthy’s last two movies, “The Kitchen” and “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” showed she was as capable at drama as she is at comedy. McCarthy’s new HBO Max movie, “Superintelligence,” is a return to her comedic forte, but she still wanted it to have a poignant message.
McCarthy plays Carol Peters, who left the corporate world eight years ago to work in charity. A powerful artificial intelligence with the voice of James Corden interrupts Carol’s life, asking to study her to learn about humanity. It ultimately falls upon Carol to convince Superintelligence not to eliminate humanity, despite human beings’ flaws.
“Superintelligence” is not, however, a message movie, McCarthy said. The actor hopes viewers get lost in the relationship between Carol and Superintelligence, and the theme could come through subtly.
“It has a point, but it’s not trying to teach you something,” McCarthy said. “There’s nothing wrong with saying we’re not perfect.”
For example, the film introduces Carol working in pet adoption to show how committed she is to selfless causes. McCarthy added to the scripted comedy by putting a dog in a BabyBjorn, against the wishes of her director and husband Ben Falcone. Falcone worried that the canine would not cooperate and make scene continuity difficult.
“Four minutes later, Ben turned around and I had the dog in a BabyBjorn,” McCarthey said. “That dog was like, ‘This is A-OK.'”
“Superintelligence” is McCarthy’s fourth movie directed by Falcone, who previously directed her in “Tammy,” “The Boss” and “Life of the Party.” The couple met in the comedy group The Groundlings in 1998, and Falcone has appeared, as well, in cameos in McCarthy films he did not direct.
One element missing on the set of “Superintelligence” was Superintelligence himself. McCarthy would have to wait to hear her Superintelligence scenes with Cordon’s voice because the actor, singer and talk show host recorded his dialogue after McCarthy filmed the scenes.
McCarthy said she knew she needed to be able to form a relationship with Superintelligence or the movie would not work. She enlisted screenwriter Steve Mallory to read Superintelligence’s lines off camera for her, rather than using a different assistant every day.
“It really did make a huge difference,” McCarthy said. “Just to have a random person reading it differently every day would have been very disjointed.”
Ultimately, Superintelligence needs to learn about human relationships. So, he pushes Carol to reconnect with an ex-boyfriend, George (Bobby Cannavale), intending to observe their courtship.
During one of McCarthy’s romantic scenes with Cannavale, McCarthy said, she made a distracting mistake. While Cannavale drank water in each take, McCarthy used real coffee, and her stomach started growling after several takes.
“It literally seemed like I swallowed two muskrats and they were fighting their way out of my stomach,” McCarthy said.
With the release of “Superintelligence,” McCarthy said she wanted to follow through on the film’s message. McCarthy, Falcone and HBO Max teamed up to launch a 20 Days of Kindness campaign Nov. 10.
The streaming service is giving $20,000 to a different charity each day until Nov. 30, and parent company AT&T donated $1 million to Girls Who Code on Day 1. In addition to the companies’ donations, 20 Days of Kindness encourages others to contribute. It was important to McCarthy to highlight real-life organizations doing good for the world.
“We just wanted to shine the light on the good guys because it’s harder to get noticed when you’re doing the right thing,” McCarthy said. “It’s much easier if you’re screaming and yelling and being bananas, but it’s hard when you’re just being kind to get noticed.”
“Superintelligence” premieres Thursday on HBO Max, and you can see daily charities at 20daysofkindness.com.