“Jexi” stars Adam DeVine, Alexandra Shipp, Michael Peña, and Rose Byrne. Released on October 11, 2019, the film is about a young man whose life is threatened by an A.I. feature on his phone.
The film is written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who also directed “21 & Over”, “Bad Moms”, and “A Bad Moms Christmas”. Every so often, we use our cell phones to check the weather, look up social media, make lists, et cetera, et cetera. However, we’ve become so dependent on our phones that we pretty much lost track of what’s happening in the real world, whether they’re good or bad. They’re not as harmful as drugs, but they can affect your social life depending on how long you’re using them. Adam DeVine seems to know what I’m talking about. This latest comedy from “The Hangover” writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore was hoping to draw in a crowd this weekend despite its small marketing campaign and its competition against the other hard-hitting adult-rated content. So far, their track record as directors weren’t too bad, with “Bad Moms” being their most successful in terms of box office and audience reception. Me, personally, I only saw that film and its sequel “A Bad Moms Christmas”, and they were quite enjoyable, in my opinion. Not perfect, but tolerable. So I was pretty interested in seeing if they can deliver another enjoyable comedy in the form of “Jexi”. Will they be able to live up to the task?
The story follows Phil (DeVine), a young man who has a major dependency issue as he couldn’t take his eyes off of his cell phone for one tiny second, pretty much like everyone else who has a cell phone. He then gets a new cell phone that comes equipped with an artificial intelligence feature known as Jexi (voiced by Byrne). The A.I. feature has been giving Phil some helpful advice on how to be less dependable on his phone and more dependable on people around him, including his love interest Cate Finnegan (Shipp). When Phil starts to spend more time with Cate, Jexi starts to grow jealous and vows to make his life a living hell so it can have him all to itself. The only thing from the film that sold me is its concept. In today’s day and age, we usually let our cell phones control our lives and distract us from what’s really important in life: spending time with our friends and loved ones. With Jon Lucas and Scott Moore behind the camera and the script, I was hoping that the film could deliver this relatable message in an entertaining and hilarious way. Turns out, it was easier said than done. They got the “message” part down, but the “entertaining and hilarious” part? Let’s just say it would depend on how much you enjoy cliched characters and forced sex jokes. The writers/directors missed a whole bunch of opportunities to deliver a fun and heartfelt portrayal of our recent technological habit, resulting in an underwhelming and humorless episode of an uninspired unaired sitcom. It’s honestly quite baffling to see that Lucas and Moore went from a fun comedy about raunchy moms to a disastrous schlock about a foul-mouthed phone just like that. I even asked Siri how it all fell apart so quickly and guess what? She’s just as baffled as I am, and she’s supposed to be helpful. So it looks like I’m going to have to answer that question the old-fashioned way. Let’s start off with the execution of the film’s plot. While the story had some interesting directions it could go and did its part in getting the message across, it felt like the directors were restraining themselves from expanding its humorous concept in a way that makes it both bonkers and heartwarming. The heart is there, but the bonkers isn’t, mostly because of their lazy and cliched screenplay. It also has some characters that were either bland or stereotypical. You got the awkward teen in the form of Phil, you got the gorgeous love interest in the form of Cate, you got the angry boss in the form of Phil’s boss Kai (Peña), and you got Jexi, a sassy and rude “phone” that you don’t want to hang out with. If I were to make the story better for me, I would tweak the first act and develop Phil’s character a bit more so that the audience has a better understanding as to why Phil is on his phone all the time. Aside from the flawed characters, the cast was good enough to provide some tolerable performances. Adam DeVine did his best in providing some charm as Phil, although I did feel that he’s playing the same character from his last films. Michael Peña was a bit too over-the-top as Kai, and Rose Byrne was decent as the voice of Jexi. Speaking of which, I’m not a fan of how they develop Jexi in terms of her personality and her sex-related humor. The character quickly got to the point that she became straight-up tiresome and apparently, the film didn’t get that memo at all. Jexi is the type of character that made me want to punch in the face, or in this case, break the phone in half, and not in a fun way. The film’s humor was also something that needs to be improved. Not only was it disappointing, but it was also constantly immature and sour. It didn’t really care that much about telling the story. Instead, the film is made just for the purpose of providing sex joke after sex joke after sex joke after F-bomb after F-bomb and so on and so on. The worse part is that I didn’t find any of them hilarious. Either tone down the sex jokes or make them funny. That’s all I need to say about the humor.
Overall, “Jexi” is about as defective as a buggy A.I. feature on someone’s phone. It’s no Siri and it’s no Alexa. It’s best described as the lower form of those two features. It did its job in getting the message out to its audience, but the overall experience was a big technological mess due to its lazy script, uninteresting characters, and the overabundance of humorless sex jokes. This is such a huge waste for the promising directorial duo and the talented cast. If you’re interested in watching it, I would say wait until it’s on television. Otherwise, it’s not worth your time.