“Jexi,” a comedy written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, does not explicitly position itself as a parody of “Her,” the poignant 2013 love story of a man and a very empathetic piece of software. But this movie’s clear play on the premise helps it get off to a fast start.
Adam Devine’s Phil is a socially challenged wannabe journalist in San Francisco, working at a website that’s both listicle farm and hard news outlet. (He’s a listicle guy.) When he ruins his smartphone in a meet-cute with a bike shop owner named Cate (Alexandra Shipp), he buys a new one from a remarkably hostile saleswoman (Wanda Sykes).
She’s nothing, though, compared to this phone’s virtual assistant, Jexi (voiced by Rose Byrne). After announcing that she’s here to make his life better, she calls him stupid for accepting the phone’s terms and conditions without reading them, and later blurts, “I’m ashamed to be your phone.”
For a good half-hour, watching and listening to Phil get roasted by Jexi is solid amusement. Her nastiness is soon revealed as a form of tough love, at least until the device becomes genuinely jealous.
“Jexi” was not screened for critics, which is odd. The movie looks like “Moonstruck” next to many of the stinkers gladly offered for reviewing assessment in recent weeks. It’s also, despite some predictably raw sex humor, more amiable than you’d expect from a movie by the writers of “The Hangover.”
And while its mode of argumentation gets weaker as the standard-issue boy-meets-girl-meets-carpe-diem plot progresses, the appealing cast and brisk running time help “Jexi” not wear out its welcome.
Rated R for language, drug use, predictably raw sex humor. Running time: 1 hour 24 minutes.