I actually went to see this. I watched it. The whole thing. From start to finish. Unironically.
Jexi (which definitely isn’t a “comedic” take on the premise from Her) was written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, and stars Adam Devine as Phil, a low-level list maker working for an online media outlet that’s definitely not Buzzfeed, who dreams of one day being a “real” journalist, and doesn’t have that great of a home life. He has no friends to spend time with, actively avoids having a social life by making up excuses not to go to work socials, has no girlfriend or luck in getting one, and is frequently degraded by his boss Kai (Michael Peña in a performance that has no business being in his film) in front of all his co-workers, only to have him request that Phil “play him out” of his random invasions on their workspace by beat-boxing a nightclub’s bass line. Needless to say, Phil spends a lot of time on his phone; in fact, it’s probably the most precious thing in the world to him. One day, however, when he accidentally runs into a biker named Cate (Alexandra Shipp) outside of her shop, his phone becomes irreversibly ruined when a separate biker runs right into it, smacking it to the sidewalk below. After going to get a new phone from a local store, Phil sits down at home and begins to set it up, only to be met by the A.I. Jexi, which comes pre-loaded onto the device. After agreeing to the user agreement without reading it, and allowing Jexi access to all of his personal accounts (including ones that are obvious red flags, just in case we need to be annoyed by how stupid this screenplay is), he then is immediately attacked verbally by the A.I., and discovers that Jexi is much more than what he thought she was. As he attempts to navigate life, using Jexi to make it better, easier, and more convenient, she makes things far more complicated than they need to be, calling him names, and generally being a bit of an asshole to him. With no way to get rid of her that he knows of, Phil has to learn the lesson that he needs to take time away from his phone, and invest time in real people if he hopes to make any real connections. And that is way too kind of a synopsis for…whatever this monstrosity is.
I’m sure any of you reading this have definitely picked up the vibe of how I feel about Jexi by now. I won’t try to sugarcoat, hide, or in any way attempt to soften my rhetoric on this movie any time soon, and although I will continue with the review after this statement, there really is no more necessary review than this: this movie is, 100%, no questions asked, no doubts about it, not even gonna try to give it any credit, absolutely fucking awful and the worst film of the year so far. Jexi is an absolute dumpster fire, an idea of a concept of a sketch of a comedy movie so atrociously and poorly executed, I immediately wanted to take back having watched it and take having watched it back for everyone in my audience who were actually laughing at jokes that weren’t funny at all and didn’t seem to notice the logic gaps larger than the Grand Canyon staring them right in the face. I don’t begrudge anyone their enjoyment of a movie, but holy shit; I have no idea how anyone thought this was a good idea. (Oh, right, because Her came out and was amazing, so now everyone wants to one-up Spike Jonze).
There are multiple moments in the film where it sets up the rules of its world and then completely forgets about them five minutes later. One incident involves Jexi updating her software so Phil won’t text Cate after getting her number, and it takes the phone offline for about 15 solid minutes. Literally not even 10 minutes later, Phil is trying to turn off his phone for reasons I forget because I’m trying to suppress my memory of watching this film, and the thought to update the software doesn’t even cross his mind for a second. To make matters worse, he uses that function during the climax of the film, and this only serves to be all the more frustrating because we now know that he knows that works, so why didn’t he do that earlier? That’s not the only logic issue sprouting from this leftover fungi growing on Satan’s littered rectal cream, but it’s a big one. The biggest one I can remember, though, (apart from Phil apparently not knowing the fastest route to his own job despite having lived in the city for a while) is that when Phil does try to get his phone replaced, he goes to the exact same store where he got the first one! Sure, Jexi is in the cloud apparently, so it wouldn’t have mattered if you went to a different store but used the same service, but he went to the exact same store as the first time, and the stupidity of this decision made me actively root for Jexi to just wreck his entire life.
I’ve seen my share of bad movies; many that I thought were overrated, many films where the editing is atrocious and the stories unfollowable, many that were so bad they actually ended up being kind of awesome (hello, The Room and Batman & Robin), and many that were simply lackluster in terms of their appeal. And yet, there were positive elements to those films that, although the movies were not (in principle) good, nevertheless appealed to me and caused me to enjoy a few things about them to the point that lacking those things would have actually made the films worse in retrospect. To that point, there are some positive things hidden away in bad movies, but not this one. Jexi doesn’t have a single good idea it makes good on or a single bad idea it doesn’t think is the most genius thing anyone’s ever tried. I have nothing positive to say about this movie. I suppose I could say that there are a couple of jokes that are somewhat funny, but even those all essentially boil down to “lol, evil Alexa is saying curse words like ‘fuck’ and ‘bitch’ and talking about masturbation.” They’re easy jokes at best, and their downright lazy nature causes me endless amounts of mental pain that I don’t think I’ll get over until I put this on my Top 10 Worst list at the end of the year, cause I can all but guarantee it’s going to end up there, probably ranking pretty high. Both Wanda Sykes and Michael Peña are in this movie, and it’s so clear they’re both improvising almost everything they say to the point where Jexi just becomes annoying whenever neither of them or Alexandra Shipp are on screen.
And speaking of Alexandra Shipp, this movie devotes absolutely zero time to actually developing her character in any meaningful way that’s not blatantly expository before deciding that after Phil basically stalked her online, she would let it go and then decide to have sex with him as the movie’s “reward” for him getting off his phone long enough to luck into getting high with Kid Cudi after sneaking backstage through an unguarded security door at a concert where Kid Cudi sees his Days of Thunder shirt and decides not to tell his security guard that Phil and Cate aren’t supposed to be there (also, there’s this whole Days of Thunder joke that the movie plays as sincere but wants you to think it’s funny, and it just doesn’t work at all). In fact, the message of the film seems to boil down to “get off your phones, you damn millennials,” but the foundational elements of why Phil’s life becomes better happen because of his phone, and he even spells it out during the movie’s closing moments in case the audience didn’t feel the theme beating them over the head. The most frustrating thing is that this movie seems to believe wholeheartedly that it’s a fantastic comedic film with something important to say, when in actuality, it has absolutely nothing of merit within a single frame. It doesn’t put in any effort in any area that’s not “evil Alexa says ‘fuck,’” and doesn’t even pretend to give a shit about its characters or the logic of the world it takes place in.
Jexi is an unfunny comedy about a hapless “hero” who uses his phone to successfully make his life better and then wants to yell at its audience that we’re all on our phones too much and they don’t make our lives better, not even remembering that Phil wins over the girl of his dreams for literally no reason other than that he used his phone to defeat his phone. Nothing in this movie makes sense, nothing in this movie is earned, nothing in this movie is the least bit moving, and absolutely none of it adds up to anything worth having spent any time on, for its crew or its poor, poor cast (seriously, Michael Peña, fire your agent). It’s the most blatantly condescending film of the year without even the decency to follow through on its own points, it’s a totally shameless shit on its audience in nature, and if this tells you anything, I actually wanted to be on my phone while I was watching it (but seriously, don’t be on your phone in a movie theater; that’s actually incredibly rude) just so I could scroll through my twitter feed and actually be entertained. This is easily one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, quite possibly the worst of the year so far, and due to how thoroughly successful it was at pissing me off through every goddamn scene, it gets my lowest rating of the entire year. Don’t see this movie. Ever.
I’m giving “Jexi” a 2.9/10
- The UNfriendly Film Fan
Film critic in my free time. Film enthusiast in my down time. Writer for Bitesize Breakdown.