When I initially saw the trailer for Lexi…which would literally be renamed to Jexi (2019) a few days after I saw it – I thought to myself “comedy version of Her (2013)”, which was bound to happen. Being a fan of rom-com’s and much of Adam Devine’s humor, I went in optimistically. The areas of the film that bugged me were shocking, as there were more technical problems than I would have expected – but the comedy mostly worked, even if the romance barely did.
Jexi had some funny moments and a few charming ones, but doesn’t work completely
Phil (Devine) breaks his phone after running into Cate (Alexandra Shipp) during the film’s meet-cute. Instead of getting another iPhone – a detail the plot glosses over completely – he gets Jexi (voiced by the incredible Rose Byrne), a new A.I. promising to make his life better. She immediately demonstrates she’s not like any other A.I. Phil has ever dealt with and is going to challenge his usual life choices.
It’s clear that the audience’s connection with Devine will make or break their enjoyment of the movie. Fortunately for me and the other four people in my screening, we all seemed to be on board with his charmingly nerdy persona, and he got several big laughs out of us. The most successful element of this rom-com was the chemistry between Devine and Shipp. I totally bought into their relationship, and even when his character did incredibly creepy things – partially due to Jexi – Phil was able to logically explain his nervousness, and Cate was able to see past some of his initial behaviors. Their second in-person meeting at the coffee shop after he wrecked his odd phone call is extremely charming, and offered more hope that this could be a great movie than the rest of the film will live up to.
There are numerous issues I had while watching this film, with the worst would be the camera work in very basic dialogue sequences. Either the cinematographer Ben Kutchins or directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore don’t enjoy doing dialogue scenes, so they thought they’d spice them up with extremely jumpy and shaky camera work…or there wasn’t room in the budget for a tripod. The other big area is the inconsistency with elements of the screenplay. Whether its the blatant “cell phones are ruining society” commentary or the elements with Jexi that seem pieced together as though the screenplay was an amalgamation of a few different ideas with none of them fully developing – there are parts of this movie that are just plain bad. The trailers sold the idea of Phil being in a relationship with Jexi very much like the premise of Her…however, initially – it goes in a different direction, with Jexi being more like a pushy virtual assistant. This element would have worked better had they stayed with it – but it bounces back and forth between both, and one feels much more organic than the other.
Nevertheless, Jexi offered plenty of sweet moments, charming comedy, and a few raunchy moments packed into its 84-minute runtime. In other words, despite the flaws, it was a perfectly passable time at the theater. I’m glad I decided to see it when I did because it was pulled out of my local megaplex the next day. Jexi earns A Decent Watch rating.