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Jexi Reviews

Jexi is a cautionary comedic tale that serves to deliver a mixed bag of laughs. More funny than poignant, it aims to make us look at our own scary overuse of mobile phones and how scary it is to rely on a digital assistant, but it ultimately settles for making us smile about it. Written and directed by Jon Lucas (Bad Moms, The Hangover) and Scott Moore (also Bad Moms, The Hangover), Jexi riffs on stereotypes such as women fixing unworthy men who become redeemable by merely fulfilling some minor obstacle. It’s shallow throughout, hostile in many parts, and accurate in few. This duo brings a sloppy rehash of their brand of humor, which even at its worst, is still pretty good. Phil (Adam Devine) brings a likeable charm to an unappealing, shy young man who was raised on cell phones and continues to be sucked into a vortex of screen use. His every waking moment is spent on his phone, including walking down the street and trying to shower. Even his job is to write inane, viral listicles that suck other people into their phones. But Phil’s life changes when he breaks his smartphone and is forced to upgrade to the latest model, which includes a virtual assistant named Jexi (voiced by Rose Byrne). Jexi is programmed to be able to read into Phil’s personal data, both on his phone and in person. She analyzes how she can help Phil break out of his personal barriers, and pushes him to do more in life, including making friends and trying to get back into the dating scene. Although Jexi says “I am programmed to make your life better,” there’s a certain amount of jealousy on her end as Phil’s life seems to improve. What’s more, her methods of enhancing his life costs him his self-esteem as she constantly berates him. Beautiful and talented Cate (Alexandra Shipp) somehow falls for Phil despite his already being in a relationship with his phone. She also wants to push him to see his own character failings, to the point that she almost seems like a real-world personification of his virtual assistant, Jexi. Jexi feels unpolished, though at times one can see some brightness gleaming through its cracks. Its mission to get laughs no matter the cost forces the characters to hurriedly attempt to fit in a romance—and then sabotage it when Jexi’s jealousy causes her to go haywire. It’s hard to say if lengthening the film would have helped, since there’s already a lot of filler. Fortunately, when that filler includes cameos from comedians who themselves could have played larger roles, it’s almost worthwhile.  While the message about our addiction to technology and relationships with virtual assistants has already been masterfully told in the movie Her, this comedic spin provides a lot of humor, albeit dark. Worth it for the laughs, Jexi is probably more suited for in-home streaming than a big screen showing.