Adam DeVine’s Smartphone Takes Over His Life in Wacky Comedy ‘Jexi’
With people becoming more and more reliant on phones that are becoming smarter every year, and many preferring to spend quality time with their devices over actual human interaction, the wacky sci-fi comedy “Jexi” rings relevant. Written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the team behind “Bad Moms” and “The Hangover” trilogy, this latest film employs that type of humor while also borrowing from “Her,” and even “Fatal Attraction.”
“Jexi” stars Adam DeVine as Phil, a 30 something man living in San Francisco. Phil has aspirations to be a serious journalist, but he’s stuck working for Chatterbox, a Buzzfeed-like website, writing lists like “Top Ten Cats That Look Like Ryan Gosling.” From the moment he wakes up every morning, he is glued to his phone, going above and beyond even normal millennial behavior, as he can’t even take a shower without going through Instagram. So enamored with technology, he blows off invites from his co-workers (Ron Funches, Charlyne Yi), despite having zero pals (unless you count Siri), preferring to spend his evenings alone ordering food from phone apps, watching Netflix, and masturbating to porn clips. Flashbacks offer a bit of an explanation as to how he became to be so antisocial; when he was a kid, his parents would give him their phones to play with to distract him while they bickered.
Everything changes for Phil after he accidentally destroys his phone during a meet-cute with free-spirited bicycle shop owner Cate (Alexandra Shipp), causing him to by a new phone equipped with Jexi (voiced by Rose Byrne), a sentient virtual assistant that thinks she knows what’s best for him, overriding his decisions and even calling him names to make certain points. After failing to be rid of Jexi by exchanging phones (she’s in a cloud, after all), Phil comes around to accepting the situation, allowing her to act as a life coach of sorts. With Jexi’s help, he successfully makes friends, wins over Cate, and even gets a promotion. However, in a reverse “Her,” “Jexi” takes a dark turn after the virtual woman develops feelings for Phil, and she sabotages his life when he begins to pull away from her in order to focus on his budding romance with Cate.
“Jexi” has fun exploring all the ways a smartphone can ruin someone’s life if given the opportunity, from the juvenile (sending dick pics to all of Phil’s co-workers) to the more sinister (paralyzing someone using an electric scooter). The film meanders a bit in the second half — Phil and Cate’s second date at a Kid Cudi concert goes on for a little too long, and Cate weakens as a character after Jexi manipulates to bring her ex to San Francisco. However, the dialogue is funny throughout, and Jexi has plenty of hilarious zingers. After Phil buys Jexi a tie-dye phone case, for example, she claims that it makes her look like someone who drops acid and “fucks Bernie Sanders.”
Fans of DeVine will no doubt have fun with “Jexi,” as it features the actor playing the kind of endearingly awkward character he usually portrays. Part of his charm is that he’s not afraid to humiliate himself, which makes him the best choice to play a character who is a prime example of why young people are supposedly having less sex than previous generations. However, the funniest person in the film is Wanda Sykes, who appears in a few scenes as a frustrated employee at an Apple-like store. She’s especially hilarious when she‘s scolding Phil for his tech addiction, claiming he’s worse than a crackhead, as even crackheads get off their butts to get more crack.
“Jexi” opens Oct. 11 nationwide.