Starring: Adam Devine, Alexandra Shipp, Michael Peña
Director: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Running Time: 83 mins
Jexi is an American film about a man obsessed with his phone who, after buying a new device with an advanced operating system, finds his life turned upside down by the phone itself.
This is a really weird film. On the one hand, it’s a generic, fairly dumb and pretty predictable Hollywood comedy that, despite having a few good laughs, is hardly a masterpiece. On the other, it’s an unexpectedly insightful and intelligent look at the modern world and our reliance on phones. And then on some sort of third hand, it’s also a weirdly enjoyable, pleasant and even heartfelt romantic drama.
So, it’s safe to say that there’s a lot going on in Jexi, which is the first big positive to take away from it. Although it ultimately doesn’t achieve all too much, its surprising ambition and depth make it a film that’s entertaining and engaging to watch throughout.
Whether you’re enjoying the battle between Adam Devine and his foul-mouthed phone, the moments of real catharsis and biting social themes, or even the surprisingly pleasant romance, there’s always something that makes Jexi an enjoyable watch.
Now, the problem with covering so many different bases is that the film is desperately inconsistent, shifting tone in painfully abrupt fashion throughout, and potentially alienating fans of differing parts of its story.
If you want a good comedy, some parts of Jexi are an absolute riot. But the rest isn’t all that great. For more interesting social themes, the film does a surprising job at moments, but is regularly undermined by its foul-mouthed and juvenile humour. And for romance, as heartfelt as the story is at times, it suffocates under the film’s other two main story lines.
So, while it would be nice to just call Jexi a dumbed-down, foul-mouthed version of Spike Jonze’s Her, there’s so much going on in both impressively broad and frustratingly disjointed fashion that it’s difficult to really peg it down well.
Adam Devine is an enjoyable lead throughout, and Alexandra Shipp a pleasant albeit underused love interest alongside. Michael Peña is never as funny as his often overly loud-mouthed performance seems to promise, but Rose Byrne is the standout as the voice of Jexi, the phone’s foul-mouthed operating system.
The majority of the gags are very predictable, playing out as a series of sparring matches between Devine and his phone, but Byrne’s voice performance brings some unexpected energy to the table throughout, helping those often tiresome battles to be just a little funnier from time to time.
Overall, I must say that, despite its many flaws, I didn’t think Jexi was all too bad. It’s a surprisingly enjoyable watch throughout, with moments of good humour in a ridiculous story, alongside briefly riveting social themes and pleasant romance.
The performances are decent across the board, and although the movie never makes you laugh quite as much as it wants to, Jexi is a genuinely surprising watch at times. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.2.