Jexi (2019): Smartphony

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“Jexi” is directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who also co-wrote the movie together. This film stars Adam Devine (Pitch Perfect, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates), Alexandra Shipp (X-Men: Apocalypse, Love, Simon), Michael Peña (Ant-Man, Dora and the Lost City of Gold), and Rose Byrne (Damages, Neighbors) in a story about a guy who is too attached to his phone. The main character of Phil uses his phone which has this voice control service named Jexi, pretty similar to Siri, Google, Alexa, or Cortana if that’s still a thing. The film eventually arrives at a point where it is established that the phone is controlling Phil’s life, perhaps in an abusive manner. So, basically imagine if Siri became HAL from “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Going into “Jexi,” I honestly had little to no hopes for this movie whatsoever. I watched the trailer before going in and even though it put a slight smile on my face for one moment, I thought this movie was just going to plain suck. But at the same time, the plot can resonate with society today, so maybe it could be a fine allegory for how much we as people rely on our phones. Once they’re in our sights, or in our hands, we’re hooked. This point is emphasized at the very beginning of the film. The main character enjoys playing on his phone, he uses it as an alarm clock, he uses it as a calendar, and when it falls when accidentally bumping into someone, he tends to attach more value onto the device than other people. So when Phil’s phone breaks, I as an audience member got a sense that this incident sort of ruined his life.

Speaking of ruining lives, I think my life has officially been tossed to the ground, shattered, stepped on, and in need of repair at the Geek Squad. This movie… I don’t even know what to say except… WOW. This was one of my least anticipated films I have seen all year, and I honestly can’t say it’s the worst I’ve seen this year. But… To call this movie Shakespeare would be impractical to unimaginable degrees. F*ck! This! Movie! I mean… Seriously! I still don’t even know how to describe what just happened! My head is spinning as I write this! If I had to be honest, out of all the movies I have seen this year, aside from John Travolta’s “The Fanatic,” this is definitely the one that I will remember as that “so bad it’s good” type of film. Because a lot of elements are inserted to make something interesting, but it’s funny for the wrong reasons. Granted, this is a comedy, and the job of a comedy is to make me laugh. I cannot say I was happy with myself for laughing because I felt like what I was watching could have been written by Patrick Star from “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

Without spoiling anything, here are my main thoughts on this movie’s BEGINNING, MIDDLE, and END… In separate paragraphs.

BEGINNING:
The first act provides a fine sense of where this movie will eventually go. It establishes our society’s insatiable hankering for smartphones. The humor is a little bit mixed, but when it’s bad, it easily messes with my brain. Most of the standout moments and lines, kind of to my surprise, come from the AI. BUT THE MAIN CHARACTER IS STUPID.

MIDDLE:
Alright, this part is not too bad. I think the chemistry between the main character and his love interest is a tad off. Although wait a minute… DID THEIR CHEMISTRY JUST CLICK?! WHAT AM I WATCHING?! Also… That phone is starting to annoy me a bit.

END:
Never thought I’d say this, but “Jexi” has somehow built itself up pretty well. I’m somewhat irritated by the movie, but I do think it is funny at times, maybe for reasons I can’t live with, but things seemed to have moved in the right direc–wait wait wait! WHAT?! NO! F*ck this s*it! I’m done! I can’t! Why is this happening? This makes no sense!

As of this point, “Jexi” has tarnished my soul and made me feel somewhat insignificant.

As mentioned, THE MAIN CHARACTER IS STUPID. Granted, that is kind of the point of the movie. I guess Phil is supposed to represent the stereotype of a phone addict. Phil uses his phone to control pretty much every aspect of his life. He’s that kind of person who would work at a job for a good portion of time and still try to ask his phone what the fastest route to work is. Granted, he is in a major city so it’s not completely nonsensical, but it still feels weird! Also, when Phil first gets a phone with Jexi on it, he needs to agree to various terms and conditions. You know how a lot of people join something new without reading the obnoxiously long terms and conditions? There’s this joke where Phil just blindly accepts whatever is in front of him. It takes some time for him to want to switch to a new phone. He’s incredibly petrified given his recent situation and just takes whatever phone is given to him. There’s no process as to how he manages to get a phone, he just takes one and walks away. So he gets a new phone, which also has Jexi on it. He’s given the terms and conditions again. And just like last time, he doesn’t read through them! WHAT ARE YOU STUPID?! I’m pretty sure in a situation like this, that MIGHT have something to do with what’s happening here! It sounds absurd, but I think Captain Obvious whispered in my ear as this movie went on! As I expected, this leads to Jexi eventually activating herself and recognizing Phil. And then I had to suffer through the rest of this crap!

Screenshot (38)

I will give credit to Jexi though for being a proper definition of what a crazy AI on a phone could be. It follows you around, it’s with you forever, and it has all of your information to use against you. In fact, Jexi is voiced by Rose Byrne and she is PERFECT in her role. There is not a moment where this felt like I wasn’t listening to a phone robot. Well done!

Although one of the more interesting characters in the film, even though she is part of an off and on marathon of interactions is Cate. The reason why I find her so interesting is because she is not attached any electronic devices. She mentions at one point that she used to be about that sort of life, but she gave up and decided to focus more on reality. I for one went in the opposite direction, where I gave up on reality for a greater dive into social media. It does make me wonder though, is it worth talking to a bunch of people I don’t know? Because there’s a high chance that I won’t meet everyone I talk to online, so do we have real relationships? It is a question worth considering.

Although aside from Phil, there are two characters in this movie I hate with a burning passion. One of them is Denice, who happens to be working at a phone store Phil makes multiple trips to during the movie. As I saw her in multiple scenes, I just had to ask. WHY is she here? She should be fired! For all I know she could be one of the higher-ups there, but wouldn’t somebody call, USING A PHONE THEY PROBABLY BOUGHT FROM THE STORE, to complain about their experience to the corporate office or something? I am just dumbfounded! How did she get a job working at a phone store, if she is making fun of a target demographic for the smartphone industry? Is it supposed to be played for laughs? I guess. But in reality, this does not make sense! It’s like if I applied for a job at Amazon and I made fun of everybody who chose the fastest shipping options. I would not be the prime pick for them!

Speaking of terrible work environments and people in them, let’s talk about Phil’s boss in this movie. Phil works at this company that may as well have been created because maybe the writers could not use the name BuzzFeed. Essentially, it is a bunch of people’s jobs, including Phil’s, to come up with random click-bait type lists that will go viral for like a day until they create a new one that also might last for a day in terms of popularity. Phil’s boss is played by Michael Peña, who isn’t really as much of a dick as say Kevin Spacey from “Horrible Bosses,” or… well, Kevin Spacey, but he’s just annoying. There’s this gag where people have to drop beats to let him move away from a certain area and it made me want to beat myself in the face.

But the absolute worst thing about this movie is the ending. I talked about it a little bit, but I need to dive a little deeper because… F*CK! A lot of what happens with Jexi in this film may be rather supernatural or unrealistic to a certain standard, but I was still able to let it slide because at times, it was funny. Then we get to the ending. The big… fat… ending, where all hell and its fiendish minions break loose. I will not go into much detail, but something truly significant happens during the ending, that would probably work if it were a nightmare heavily involving technology, but if it were put into reality, it would come off as insane. I’m still flabbergasted, I’m still a little hurt, and this was ultimately the biggest turnoff that I can point out in “Jexi” because the second act seemed to have sparked a slight sense of improvement in the movie, and all of a sudden, this s*it happens. It just goes to show, a bad ending can ruin a good movie. Granted, “Jexi” was average at best before this, but this was a huge downfall. At least it’s only 84 minutes! …Well, 84 minutes of doom.

“OK Google, set a reminder on my calendar for every day for the rest of civilization to never watch Jexi again.”

In the end, “Jexi” tries to be hilarious, but just manages to be a defect of a movie. I’d rather be stuck in the woods with no bars on my phone, holding a 5% charge, and have a high possibility of being eaten by a bear than watch “Jexi” again. Maybe if I’m 21 and happen to be drunk, I’d slap it on the TV and see what happens. Maybe I’d laugh my ass off, because this is not just a bad movie, it’s occasionally got that so bad it’s good vibe. It has a lot of aspects worth questioning, both for good and bad reasons. And with that notion in mind, it could make the movie watchable. But in all seriousness, I’m going to give “Jexi” a 3/10. One last thing, I know this movie was probably never supposed to be a standout for its technical aspects, but the cinematography was SO OFF-PUTTING at times. There are multiple scenes where the cinematographer or the director just had this fetish to zoom in or out on something. This almost reminded of why I don’t watch shows like “The Office.” The camera is always in motion, it feels kind of uncomfortable. Just… “Jexi” can suck it.

Thanks for reading my totally objective and not at all opinionated review. This movie somehow managed to turn out better than I originally thought it would, but that must not say much at all, because I thought this could have been the worst movie of the year. Turns out it’s just… another bad flick. And speaking of movies where phones happen to be possessed, I will have another review up this week, specifically for the new movie “Countdown.” I just got to see it at an advance screening last Thursday, and I have some things to say about it. Be sure to look out for that review, and if you want to be notified of said review, please follow Scene Before either with an email if you want to get news about my blog in your inbox, or with a WordPress account to like or comment and get informed about the latest at Scene Before through your very own WordPress feed! Stay tuned for more great content, and check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Jexi?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite voice control AI? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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