Review – SIRI, is this movie funny?(“Jexi”)

Blatantly parodying and ripping-off the 2013 movie, Her, this movie about a single guy having a dangerous relationship with his cellphone, is about as subtle as a sledgehammer smashing a pile of dynamite. And who better to exploit this mockery of man vs OS than the master of subtlety himself, Adam Devine!

Phil Thompson (Devine) is a loser. Living in beautiful San Francisco, Phil is single, has zero friends, eats the same meal every night and, even though he’s a serious journalist, works at Chatterbox, sorta like Buzzfeed with all their crazy online lists. And like the entire population, Phil is surgically attached to his cellphone. That all changes one day when he meets-cute bicycle shop owner, Cate Finnegan (Alexandra Shipp) and his phone smashes to pieces. After getting a brand new phone from the world’s meanest phone salesperson (Wanda Sykes, killing it), Phil is introduced to his new phone OS, Jexi (voiced by Rose Brynes, but more robotic). One thing is for certain, this is no SIRI!

Jexi is abrasive, condescending, uses foul and disgusting language, and treats Phil like he’s a complete and utter loser which, after all, he is. Jexi’s intention is to make Phil a better person… even if it means destroying his life to do so. But does Phil turn off the phone or simply remove the battery to get rid of this menace? Nope! He just returns the phone, only to find that Jexi is now “in the cloud” and can attach herself into any phone he gets. Uh-oh. But it’s not all THAT bad, since through all her name-calling and vulgarity, she manages to push Phil into making a date with Cate, which turns out to be better than he’s hoped for.

After a great night seeing some rapper named Kid Cudi (is he a thing?) and having a quirky bike ride together, the two fall in love. Ah, but right on cue, Jexi becomes jealous of the romance and summons Brody (Justin Hartley), Cate’s drop-dead gorgeous ex-fiance, to break up their love affair. Oh no! Will Phil ever be able to rid himself of Jexi once and for all? Can Cate find true love with a guy who’s such a clown? And how is it the co-stars in this movie are funnier than the main cast?

Riddled with plot holes, Jexi was written & directed by Jon Lucas & Scott Moore (Bad Moms, A Bad Moms Christmas), and should have been SO much better than it was. Lucas & Moore, who wrote & directed Bad Moms (one of the funniest movies I’ve seen), made this overtly raunchy send-up of Her and Colossus: The Forbin Project, but it struggles to be either a romantic comedy or a sci-fi thriller. Not that is doesn’t work from time to time; some scenes are pure comedy gold, but others just leave you yawning or wincing at the really dumb jokes. And graphic dick pic’s? Seriously? I really didn’t want to see that!

Devine does his usual idiot, loser-guy schtick and is his timing and comedy is good, while Shipp is sadly given practically nothing here to work with. The best comedy comes with, of all people, the supporting cast. Stand-up comedian Ron Funches (a regular on the old game show, @Midnight) is funny without even trying, Michael Pena as Phil’s eccentric and over-the-top boss is amazing and steals every scene he’s in, and let’s not forget the hilarious Wanda Sykes who you actually WANT to see again and again. Even Justin Hartley nails his small role with such a remarkable and unexpected spin, you long to see more of him as well. That comes with some outstanding writing for the little things, but in the larger picture (the main plot), it’s the same ‘ol, same’ ol stuff with a dull ending. Really guys, you HAVE done better!

HER (2013)

Admit it, you’ve probably asked SIRI something sexually derogatory at some time. But what if SIRI honestly answered you back? This was the premise behind writer/director Spike Jonze’s first screenplay involving a hopelessly lonely man, his female-speaking AI computer, and what it means to be in love.

It’s the not-too-distant future in L.A. and utterly lonely, depressed, and introverted Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) works for a company that writes love letters for people who are unable to. Ironic, huh? Unhappy because of his impending divorce from his childhood sweetheart, Catherine (Roomey Mara), Theodore purchases an OS upgrade for his computer that includes a SIRI-like program with an AI named Samantha (Scarlett Johansson voiced). Over time, in their lengthy conversations, they bond over their discussions about love, life, and Theodore’s reluctance over signing his divorce papers.

Samantha convinces Theodore to go on a blind date, but it doesn’t go well. Theodore and Samantha’s intimacy grows as they develop a strong, strange relationship with each other, causing Theodore’s writing and well-being to improve. But a twist develops when Amy (Amy Adams), Theo’s old childhood sweetheart and apartment neighbor, unexpectantly divorces her husband. After Catherine accuses Theo of not being able to deal with real human emotions, Samantha suggest a sex surrogate (Portia Doubleday) to sorta fill in the gaps, so to speak.

Needless to say, this doesn’t help either and that awkward episode leaves Theo and Samantha at odds with other. Trying to have both a relationship with Amy AND his OS is a tricky thing, and Theo doesn’t handle it well, causing Theo to freak out when he learns the awful truth from Samantha: she’s simultaneously ‘in love’ with hundreds of other on-line guys! Realizing its mistake, Samantha exits her OS programming and gives Theo his freedom, who is greatly changed by this whole experience.

Shot like an art house movie, writer/director Spike Jonze carefully constructed this movie with such a deft hand, it’s almost like something from a dream. It could have had funny bone to it, like Weird Science, or a sinister streak like Colossus, The Forbin Project or Transcendence, but instead it goes right for the heart. Held together by the devastating and bravura performance of Phoenix, this oddly twisted tale looks like something straight out of Black Mirror’s repertory, but without any gruesome finales. Understated and flawless, the screenplay is filled with real dialogue and speaks to the human condition, something few movies of this nature ever do. Worth a second look.

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