We may not have flying cars, but thanks to the Internet of Things, we can have robot networks in our homes. They don’t move around, usually, but they can control almost all aspects of our lives. And most of us carry one in our pockets every day. I’m speaking, of course, of the phones we carry, with software more powerful than that which put Apollo 11 on the moon. Unsurprisingly then, we’ve started to create art that reflects this powerful relationship. There was 2013’s Her, for instance. And now we have this film, which I’ll discuss further in this Jexi movie review.
The Jexi Plot Summary: It’s Not That Complicated
Aspiring journalist Phil (Adam DeVine) is living a pretty unfulfilled–no pun intended–life. He has a writing job at a Buzzfeed-alike, where he’s been languishing in the listicles department since he began. Outside of the job, his life is sad, but it’s a familiar kind of sadness. Many people are living lives like this: go to work, come home, watch TV, repeat.
Phil would like to get out of his comfort zone, but…it’s comfortable. That is, after all, why people stay in ruts. It’s safe there and it seems to hard to escape–all that climbing and trying, ugh. That’s Phil. And then he meets Cate (Alexandra Shipp).
Cate is living the kind of life that Phil would like to live. It’s not the exact life he would want–it’s her version. But she had a comfortable life and then she made the leap to something more satisfying. It’s something that Phil could do, if he just had a little push. But the push won’t come from her. It’s his phone that gets him moving.
After Phil’s old phone is destroyed, he buys a new one. It comes complete with Jexi (Rose Byrne), a phone-based virtual assistant like Siri or Google Assistant. Phil gives Jexi the controls, verbally signing off on the user agreement without reading the finer details. “Stupid,” Jexi pronounces, then takes over his life. Shenanigans ensue.
Her As a Horror Film or As a Comedy: The Jexi Movie Review
As Jexi appears to develop feelings for Phil, viewers will certainly be reminded of Her, in which Joaquin Phoenix’s character becomes infatuated with his own phone’s AI. But that film was more an exploration of loneliness than a treatise on our relationship with technology. Personally, I was reminded of this year Child’s Play, in which a doll with a corrupted program turns other connected products into weapons.
Both it and Jexi seem to want to communicate something about the way we live with our phones. But neither have done it as effectively as the king of technology paranoia, Black Mirror, which hasn’t done it as effectively as The Toast’s parody of Black Mirror: “What if phones but too much?”
Thankfully, outside of a few obvious scenes of people goggling at their phones, the movie doesn’t hit this point too hard. It wouldn’t be able to support it–it’s just not serious enough for that. In addition, the shifts to Jexi terrorizing Phil come awfully late in the film, but maybe that’s a mercy, too. Although she’s shown signs of being a bully, these later scenes are too much of a tonal shift to fit in well with the rest of the movie.
Because despite all the fancy language or anything you want to read into this or any review, at its heart, Jexi is a dumb comedy movie. It is, after all, from the guys who wrote the first Hangover film. Yeah, the guy who wrote the next two went on to make Chernobyl, but the original duo went on to make Bad Moms.
And I’m not saying that’s bad! I’m only telling you what to expect. If you go into this movie knowing it’s a sometimes puerile romcom, then you’ll enjoy it more. Or at all. If you’re expecting great art, then you’re probably going to be disappointed. I, for one, enjoy a dumb comedy. But if you don’t, that’s cool. There are other movies out there for you. Just ask your phone.
Jexi is in theaters nationwide now. Are you going to see it or have you seen it already? Let us know in the comments below or have your phone tell our phones on social media.
featured image via CBS Films and Entertainment One
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. She now splits her time between the Appalachian wilds (of Alabama) and the considerably more refined streets of New York City. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf.