Director: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Screenwriter: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Starring: Adam DeVine, Alexandra Shipp, Michael Peña, Rose Byrne
People these days… always on their phones. Just look at yourself! What kind of person stares at a screen? A mindless zombie sheep that can’t stop consuming media to have a real experience, that’s who. Why are you reading this article instead of going out to a theater and watching this movie in real life with other real people? Your life must be a montage of repetitive, everyday events and interactions that never end because you’re a drone in the system instead of a free-spirited individual.
There’s no way people can use their phones and be happy, right?
Look, I get that there are problems with social media. It definitely isn’t healthy to do nothing but watch Netflix and browse Reddit in social isolation [proclaims the writer who spends a lot of time watching Netflix and browsing Reddit in social isolation]. There are real ethical issues to be dealt with when it comes to AI. The problem with Jexi is that it doesn’t really bother with any of those things.
Jexi is the story of Adam DeVine getting a new phone with an omniscient/omnipotent AI called Jexi. It’s like Siri, but different because of its dynamic personality and supervillain qualities. Adam works as a blogger at
Totally-Not-BuzzFeed Chatterbox making listicles. He doesn’t even know the people sitting next to him, and he spends his days watching streaming services and masturbating – the movie really tries to get a lot of mileage out of masturbation as a joke – instead of interacting with human beings. He dreams of being an “actual” journalist, because apparently writing content that entertains people is not a job that can be satisfying [on an unrelated note, check out my list of lightsaber creations or perhaps my list on five of the best character introductions in film history. None of this hit home at all. I’m not crying, you’re crying].
Adam DeVine has to get the new phone after a clumsy meet-cute with Alexandra Shipp (they’re both too good to be in this movie), and you can tell she’s a great actress because she’s amazing at pretending Adam DeVine is deserving of a second of her time after he slams into her and can’t bother to apologize. You don’t just stand there and have a meet-cute with the guy that just ran into you and then went to check on his phone, you ignore him and walk into the bike shop that you own and operate. This love story will devolve into the “awkward but kind of nice guy gets the girl” with all the discomfort of stalking and creepiness mixed in. While the film does acknowledge and correct some of the crazy behavior – calling someone who didn’t give you their number, sending an unsolicited nude photo, “love bombing” – the man is rewarded for his “noble” pursuit despite the woman’s noticeable lack of interest until the script changes her mind. Congratulations on being a decent human being… your reward is sex, apparently.
The jokes are really unfunny. There’s about two minutes dedicated to taking a dick pic, there’s a scene where he “has sex with” Jexi, there’s references to Days of Thunder, and there’s even weed. “Like, woah.” Jexi divulges his various porn interests to the audience and that’s funny because… haha, porn. And man, let me tell you about those online lists and quizzes; they’re so wacky, amirite? The only thing keeping any of the comedy afloat is the delivery from the actors, specifically Adam DeVine and Michael Peña.
Jexi seems like it was shot on a handheld camera because the frame keeps shaking, and there are these slight zooms into actors in shot-reverse-shot that added nothing but distraction. There’s no discernable rhyme or reason to the cinematography except that they need to capture these images and get them onto a screen. There could have been more phone lighting involved in a film revolving around a phone, but maybe there were concerns about being able to see. It could have been used more frequently in the beginning to drive home the social isolation visually beyond Adam DeVine being alone on his couch.
Alexandra Shipp makes a big speech in Act 2 about how she used to
be part of the Borg have an Instagram account – she would post photos of sunsets😍, say “#blessed”🙏, and post pics from vacay with bae💁♀️ – but now she isn’t merely shrouding herself in a veneer of cellular happiness, instead she has found true happiness by deleting her social media and riding vintage bicycles. Look, I hate social media as much as the next pretentious twit, but are we going to pretend there aren’t perfectly valid reasons to use it? Rather than encouraging moderation, the film says that one cannot have valid experiences until they put their phone down. The film barrages viewers with images of people walking with their face down in their phone, or filming the stage at a concert that emphasize how obsessed we all are. I’ve found some of the most interesting and rewarding things in my life by reading on my phone [like this job, for example], and wanton disparagement of electronic devices and the Internet because “kids these days don’t go outside” sounds like a twelve year old in a YouTube comment section who thinks they’re superior to others because they listen to real music like Led Zeppelin and Mozart.
This movie could have been better if it focused on the thrilling, sinister aspects of the story where the phone literally controls Adam DeVine’s life. There’s a poor man’s ‘Black Mirror’ episode in this about a phone that has access to your bank accounts, social media, and UberEats orders. There could have been real tension as Adam DeVine tries to escape a program that has access to every electronic device connected to the Internet. Instead, Jexi decided to keep its soap box in rom-com territory, taking away any hopes of the film being remotely good. You definitely made the right decision by reading this article on your phone rather than spending valuable time and money watching Jexi in real life with real other people.