By John Mulderig
NEW YORK (CNS) — Discerning moviegoers will reject “Jexi” (Lionsgate). This vulgar one-joke comedy quickly wears out its welcome and exhausts its limited comic resources, leading both to excess and to a discernible tone of desperation.
Co-writers and directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore invite us to sympathize with the plight of cellphone-addicted San Francisco internet worker Phil (Adam Devine). A lonely nebbish, Phil aspires to be a serious journalist but has settled instead for a job thinking up Top 10 lists for Chatterbox, an online pop-culture outlet.
Outside of work, Phil has neither friends nor romantic prospects. But all that begins to change when his phone is accidentally shattered and the replacement he buys turns out to be equipped with the virtual assistant of the title (voice of Rose Byrne), an insulting, domineering personality determined to get Phil out of his rut.
Jexi assists Phil’s romance with bicycle store owner Cate (Alexandra Shipp) and fosters his relationship with co-workers and potential pals Elaine (Charlyne Yi) and Craig (Ron Funches). But she ultimately proves disturbingly possessive toward him.
The laughs to be derived from a sneering Siri and obvious social commentary on the prevalence of obsession with the internet are about all “Jexi” has to offer. So Lucas and Moore pad their story with relentless gutter talk, tasteless gags and faux feel-good scenes. The result is bilge by the bay.
The film contains strong sexual content, including full nudity and implied premarital activity, benignly viewed drug use, about a half-dozen profanities and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.