Updated: Feb 9, 2020
Jexi is a comedy with a topic that hits close to home for most of us: an overreliance on our smart phones. It is about a man who uses his phone for everything. Entertainment, food, directions; he cannot function without it. The only thing missing is companionship, though soon his phone starts providing that as well. As evidenced in 2013’s Her (the story of a man who falls in love with his phone’s operating system), a lot can be done with this concept. It can be used to explore humanity, friendship, even love. Jexi has no interest in those things. It just wants to be a vulgar romantic comedy with a mildly timely hook. Sadly, its premise is not used in a way that is funny. The relationship between the protagonist and his phone is unconvincing and Jexi is a lame character that comes off as nothing more than a contrived plot device. While there are several amusing non-plot related moments, this is a movie sunk by a tremendously unappealing story.
Phil has a crappy job writing inane online lists and is so socially inept that he prefers spending all his evenings alone with his cell phone. When his phone gets broken, he buys a new one with a very intrusive, Siri-esque, digital personal assistant named Jexi. It immediately begins insulting him and overriding his commands. Eventually, Jexi leads him to take chances, including entering into an awkward relationship with sweet bike shop owner Cate.
There are elements I did not mind, but Jexi is such an unpleasant and unfunny creation that it hurts the entire production. It is mean and intentionally destructive to the point where any sane person would find a different way to get what they need. Phil comes off as a complete buffoon who can be charming one second and incompetent in every way the next. Jexi has him do a lot of stupid things because, if he was not a total idiot, the movie is twenty minutes long. Any potential social commentary is lost amid a barrage of bad dick jokes. The filmmakers clearly thought a phone swearing was inherently hilarious. I wanted Jexi to be permanently deleted within two minutes of its introduction.
Most of the stuff I did not hate involved the interplay between Adam Devine, as Phil, and Alexandra Shipp, as Cate. They actually have a few cute scenes together when the focus is not on Jexi messing with Phil. Devine can be quite funny with the right material. This is not it. Shipp is pretty likable, but needs to choose a project that lets her be smart and interesting (unfortunately for her, this is only the second worst movie she has appeared in this year after the abysmal Shaft reboot). If Jexi were about their relationship and Phil’s troubles at work (featuring the wasted trio of Michael Peña, Ron Funches and Charlyne Yi, all usually very funny, yet struggling to get laughs here), it is possible it could have been okay. The main plotline is so pointless and uncreative it just could not be saved.
There is not much more to say about Jexi (80 minutes, without the end credits) besides that it is not good. Her if the phone was a jerk might have sounded promising on paper, but what made it to the screen is thin and brainless. Funny actors need good material or they flounder, no matter how hard they try. There are a lot of flailing comedians in Jexi.
1½ out of 5
Adam Devine as Phil
Rose Byrne as voice of Jexi
Alexandra Shipp as Cate
Michael Peña as Kai
Ron Funches as Craig
Charlyne Yi as Elaine
Wanda Sykes as Denice
Written and Directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore