If you've seen the trailers for Jexi than you should probably understand why this film really doesn't function all too well, structurally speaking. While yes I did manage to chuckle a couple of times throughout, it was only thanks to Rose Byrne's delivery, not the film itself that saved Jexi from being a complete and utter disaster on every front... *sigh*... Let's get on with the review.
From the directors of nine spilled films and one actually pretty solid R-rated comedy, comes Jexi. Jon Lucas and Scott Moore have a huge credit to their name, The Hangover, however that's for writing… and for a direction credit… they're really not known. I'll give them this though, their direction is at moments sharp, but at other times it’s incredibly amateuristic and unsure of what to do with the written material. Some of the really great shots brought some unexpected laughter while the more amateur shots (what makes up a majority of the film) left me irritated and wanting the credits to arrive sooner than I'd expected. It's hard to say if these directors work well as a team, because the final product we received certainly doesn't showcase the best of a single director and certainly not two individuals.
To clarify, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore have written plenty of comedies over the years, like the sports classic, Rebound … don't remember that? Okay, what about their two classics, Bad Moms and A Bad Moms Christmas? The filmmakers behind those and the original Hangover have made this unoriginal, sloppy workshop of a script that can't manage to go longer than a scene without somehow being overtly offensive or unreasonably unfunny. The plot has a very narrow outlook, finding a familiar and easy path of jealousy and revenge but with an additional element of A.I. technology. If you've seen the trailers you've seen the film in its entirety, and if you haven't… you'll be able to predict the path it's taking within the first ten minutes.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
The film is very limited with its characters, having the film center primarily on Adam Devine's cellular obsessed Phil and his newly activated phone A.I., Jexi, who is played by the wonderful Rose Byrne. Jexi is an overruling tech that has a personality of its own in the charming and robotic voice of Byrne, adding some much needed levity to the rough dialogue. On the human front, Devine's Phil doesn't match the relatability of his character in Isn't it Romantic, however this style of acting is much preferred over the exaggerated performances of his Pitch Perfect days. He plays a desperate, lonely man incredibly well, and while his role here isn't as ego driven as many of his previous efforts, too much of him in a short amount of time is agitating. Across from Devine, Alexandra Shipp (Love, Simon) plays Cate, the love interest to our loner character Phil and slowly becomes a rival to the virtual Jexi. Shipp functions well in the role, helping Phil expand his horizons outside the black mirror in his hands. Cate is likable but her dialogue is minimal and her time on screen doesn't salvage the lackluster dialogue and story arcs herself and Phil must suffer through. These three characters are our leads, with several supporting characters coming into the frame just too spout out some nonsensical speech or offensive comments to inflate the already ridiculously short runtime.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Philip White, the composer known for the last couple of Tyler Perry outings, delivers an average score here; something very similar to his previous efforts, with many segments feeling similar to a soap opera with its over-intense nature. The second composer on the film, Christopher Lennertx, is known for similar styles of films including the director’s other features, Bad Moms and A Bad Moms Christmas, so you know his influence on the other composers style is barely noticeable as they in many ways come from the same last few films just with different titles.
The effects aren't the worst, however that's not the point here; beyond one insane car chase at the end, the film doesn't take many chances with it's effects. It's not that Jexi isn't trying with it's effects, but it feels like it might be at times a first thought decision with the design choices throughout. The design of the phone that encases Jexi is a bland choice with nothing differentiating it from every other phone on the market. Even her interface is made up of text with a lazy font choice unlike anything that an actual phone with these kind of capabilities would actually resemble. For a film that spends more time staring at a phone screen than any actual character, the filmmakers made some unpolished design decisions.
Jexi is extremely sloppy, incredibly predictable, and plays out more like a feature length SNL sketch that's overstayed its welcome than a film I’d have the desire to revisit anytime soon. Without Rose Byrne’s involvement, Jexi is a disastrous comedy that overextends itself beyond its expiration date.