Hardly Spike Jonze's Her, this farcical comedy - from the writers of The Hangover - still manages to elicit some genuine laughs as a socially inept guy gets railroaded by an aggressive phone AI with no filter.
Writer/directors Scott Moore and Jon Lucas get surprising mileage out of what is a relatively simple idea, putting together a game cast of supporting familiars and putting star Adam DeVine through the wringer as he does the heavy lifting opposite a mechanically-intonated Rose Byrne voiced phone AI.
It's not exactly rocket science, but there are plenty of laughs to be had here
DeVine's Phil is an aspiring journalist stuck doing inane break-the-internet lists for his demanding and bewilderingly eccentric boss (Michael Pena - Ant-Man, Dora), who breaks his phone after a chance meet-cute with Cate, a girl running a bike shop (Alexandra Shipp - Storm from the latest X-Men cycle), and ends up getting upgraded to a new AI, Jexi (Rose Byrne - who voiced a similarly aggressive AI in Netflix's I Am Mother) who soon gets her claws into every digital aspect of his life, in a bid to make it better, whatever the cost.
It's not exactly rocket science, but there are plenty of laughs to be had here, both through a not so unfamiliar initial reflection on just how much everybody is on their phones these days - the opening montage is superbly accurate, and it's very funny looking in from the outside, having all been on the inside - and then through a very aggressive AI partnering, which basically sees the reclusive, socially inept lead character slapped into shape by his own phone. Unlikely partner buddy-buddy comedies have used these ideas before, but it still works here, particularly with the unusual setup.
Mileage will vary depending on your tolerance for DeVine, who has worked before in small doses (the Pitch Perfect films, Modern Family) but doesn't often get the lead reins, probably for good reason. That said, he actually commits to the part, called upon to be frankly quite ridiculous at times (this is still raunchy R, The Hangover territory, with some gross out comedy in there) and surprisingly enduring mainly because he's surrounded by crazy shouty people. Of course, it's really these supporting players and cameos that get the best laughs, from Pena, who is on form, to Wanda Sykes, who is absolutely superb as an aggressive phone store clerk - they missed a beat by not having her more integral to the film's denouement.
Indeed, where the movie loses its way is in the end run, going a bit wild in the psycho AI department, and then struggling - at least in a comedy - to spin that into a satisfying closing beat. Nonetheless, for a DeVine comedy that dropped inauspiciously onto Amazon Prime in lieu of a UK cinema release (where it likely would have scored lower), Jexi is a largely surprisingly funny Hangover-esque comedy for a night in.
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