‘My Super Ex-Girlfriend’ is not a librarian

“What do we have here? Kind of uptight librarian on the outside. Ready to rumble on the inside. Go ask her out.”

Years ago, I had picked up a $5 used copy of My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006), because the trailer mentioned a librarian (scroll below). And then I forgot about the movie. But one night recently, we finally dug this DVD out. Uma Thurman plays Jenny Johnson as well as her superhero alter ego G-Girl. She starts dating Matt (Luke Wilson), but goes crazy when he breaks up with her — like throwing-a-shark-into-his-apartment-kind-of-crazy. An odd movie all the way around. It’s like the idea for the movie was pitched back in the early ’90s, but it didn’t get the green light until over a decade later.

Oh, and there’s no librarian in it, making it a Class V film. However! Not all is lost. There are some interesting references to librarians and libraries throughout.

About 5 minutes in, we get introduced to Matt, who’s on the subway with his friend Vaughn (Rainn Wilson) and they spy Jenny across the way.

Looks like a librarian? in My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Looks like a librarian?

Vaughn’s the first one to notice her:

Oh, dude, check her out. Wow. What do we have here? Kind of uptight librarian on the outside. Ready to rumble on the inside. Go ask her out.

Fast forward to their first date, we learn that she’s NOT a librarian, but rather an assistant curator at an art gallery. And here’s how Matt describes his work:

I’m a project manager at a design firm. We design and build, like, private estates, libraries, hotels. That sort of thing.

Also, in the scene that introduces Luke Wilson’s work environment, there’s yet another library reference. (Also interesting that the references to libraries came mostly in introductory scenes).

Private library at a design firm in My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Private library at a design firm

Matt and co-worker hottie, Hannah (Anna Faris), are shelving some books. Or rather, Hannah is on the ladder, shelving, while he’s checking out her rear end when his boss, Carla (Wanda Sykes), walks in.

Carla: What are you doing?

Matt: Oh, nothing, just re-shelving some reference material, trying to stay ahead.

Carla: You were staring at her butt.


The design firm’s reference library — and library ladder! — even make it into the credits:

Library ladder and a private library in the credits scene for My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Library ladder and a private library in the credits scene

I wouldn’t have been surprised if the filmmakers had decided to go the librarian route for Jenny’s occupation — and they still managed to sneak in a Naughty Librarian kind of reference, with the whole prim-librarian-on-the-outside but a wild-woman-on-the-inside remark at the beginning. Which they TOTALLY cash in on in the film’s trailer:

My Super Ex-Girlfriend” video uploaded by filmenoi is licensed under a Standard YouTube license

It actually was refreshing to hear several compliments regarding Jenny’s appearance in her “real life” disguise. For example, Matt says in a later scene, “You look nice without your glasses. You look good with them, too.” So why the decision to not make her a librarian in real life? Maybe skipping in and out of the library regularly for superhero quests would have been more noticeable than in an art gallery?

And bonus! This shot — when Jenny strips off her glasses to reveal her “true” identity as G-Girl to Matt — could have totally been a promo for a Naughty Librarian, eh?

Mistaken for a librarian in My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Mistaken for a librarian… is it the glasses? Cardigan? Buttoned-up shirt?

Sources used:

  • My Super Ex-Girlfriend. Dir. Ivan Reitman. Perf. Uma Thurman, Luke Wilson, Anna Farris, Rainn Wilson, Eddie Izzard. 20th Century Fox, 2006.

Missed opportunities in ‘Wanted’ and ‘Phenomenon’

Sometimes, I am disappointed by NOT seeing reel librarians, especially in movies that include libraries.

I come across reel librarians unexpectedly all the time — see my recent posts about My Week with Marilyn and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But sometimes, I am disappointed by NOT seeing reel librarians, especially in movies that include libraries. I was recently disappointed twice in as many days by the movies Wanted (2008) and Phenomenon (1996).

Wanted (2008):

I had been wanting (hee hee) to see the movie Wanted (2008) for quite some time, as I had heard it was a solid genre flick. And I like a good genre film, one that owns its genre and just goes for it (see Salt or Taken or The Bourne trilogy). James McAvoy stars as Wesley, a regular guy who finds out one day he shares his (dead?) father’s super-human assassin skills. But in addition to being disappointed by no librarian in the movie, I was also disappointed by the movie itself. It could have been so cool (with talent like Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy, and Morgan Freeman, how do you mess that up?!), but turned out to be quite silly and over-the-top with countless, pointless slo-mo scenes.

With an early scene set in a warehouse library, my interest was piqued, and I kept hoping for a reel librarian. There are several more scenes set in the library, including the final showdown fight. But nope, no librarian. No spoilers here — except for the fact that there’s no librarian, of course — but this film also demonstrates how research isn’t actually research if you go into it looking for sources just to back up what you already think! Rookie mistake. 😉

Phenomenon (1996):

And I had also never seen the John Travolta flick Phenomenon (1996). Remember when Travolta had that late-career resurgence in the mid-’90s? Good times. Personally, I thought Phenomenon was ok, but it went on for too long. It’s about this small-town guy, George Malley (Travolta), who becomes super-smart after seeing a light in the sky one night. (Put that way, the plot kind of resembles the Wanted plot, right? Superficially, of course, but hmmm, interesting.)

Anyways, because George starts reading multiple books a day, the library is mentioned several times throughout the movie. They even hold a library book fair showcasing all the library books he’s read in the past 2 months! George takes a long time getting ready for that book fair. Alas, no librarian. Which felt really odd to me. Wouldn’t a scene showing a librarian’s shock at George checking out all those books have been funny? It would have been interesting to juxtapose George’s all-of-a-sudden smartness with a librarian’s all-around intelligence. Missed opportunity, IMHO.

Sources used:

  • Phenomenon. Dir. Jon Turteltaub. Perf. John Travolta, Robert Duvall, Kyra Sedgwick, Forest Whitaker. Touchstone Pictures, 1996.
  • Wanted. Dir. Timur Bekmambetov. Perf. James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Terence Stamp, Common. Universal, 2008.

Gimme shelter in ‘Moscow on the Hudson’

Taking respite from the rain in front of a library

The 1984 film Moscow on the Hudson surprised me. Based on the DVD cover, I was not expecting much — or rather, I guess I was expecting a lot of bad accents and Russian stereotypes. To be sure, there are some bad accents and immigrant stereotypes, but overall, I was very pleasantly surprised by this movie. In truth, I found myself falling a little bit in love with my country again. It’s a typical immigrant plotline, but an intriguing one.

However, I was disappointed not to spot any librarians in the film. I went through the movie twice and called my husband in to make sure I wasn’t going crazy. At first, I couldn’t even spot a library!

So why did I request a copy of this movie from my local public library in the first place? Because in Martin Raish’s Librarians in the Movies online filmography, the line accompanying Moscow on the Hudson states: “Robin Williams has a scene in the library.” But the film is also listed in Category D, films Raish hadn’t seen yet or found adequate descriptive comments about. Perhaps there was a library scene that got deleted at some point?

I did finally find a web site, Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, that included a comment that one of the film scenes had been filmed outside a branch of the New York Public Library, the Tompkins Square Branch Library. Here’s how the outside of the library, and side alley way, appear in the movie (see below). You could also just spy a blurry library sign as the group walked past the entrance, in their hurry to get out of the rain.

Library exterior location in Moscow on the Hudson
Library exterior location in Moscow on the Hudson

It seems the library has undergone extensive renovations; click here for the branch library’s website.

So Moscow on the Hudson joins the other films in Class V, the category of films with no identifiable librarians. Below, enjoy a brief clip near the end of the movie.

The pursuit of happiness…” video uploaded by Greg Swann is licensed under a Standard YouTube license

Sources used:

  • Moscow on 7th Street.” Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, 18 July 2008.
  • Moscow on the Hudson. Dir. Paul Mazursky. Perf. Robin Williams, Maria Conchita Alonso, Elya Baskin, Cleavant Derricks. Columbia, 1984.
  • Raish, Martin. “The D Group.” Librarians in the Movies: An Annotated Filmography, 5 August 2011.