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Sunday, January 12, 2014

"Her" 2013 So Bad It Strains Language to Describe

"Her" 2013 is so bad communicating how bad it is strains my abilities as a reviewer. Sometimes we say, "If you've seen the trailer, you've seen the best bits of the movie." With "Her," if you've seen the movie's poster, you've seen the movie. "Her" consists of shots of Joaquin Phoenix's face as he talks to "Samantha," the operating system of his computer, and Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson, responds.

Theodore (Phoenix) is a mopey guy. His marriage failed. He is lonely. He plays video games but appears to have no other interest or activity. His computer's new operating system has a sexy voice. He has a relationship with this voice. The relationship consists of him chatting with the computer about how sad and lonely he feels and how he wishes he were in love and in a relationship. Theodore reminisces about his marriage. In flashbacks, he is shown cavorting and scampering with his picture-perfect, and much younger, ex-wife as if they were the models in an ad for Viagra or feminine protection. Theodore occasionally chats with real life people, including neighbor Amy Adams, a fine actress who is criminally underused – at the very least dress her in some jodhpurs! And that's it. Nothing else happens.

The movie is inert. It sits on the screen like a boring houseguest who won't leave and who refuses to do anything excitingly offensive enough for his host to phone the police and have him thrown out. Nothing funny or challenging or profound or original or intriguing or witty or daring is said or done. There's no development of the idea. The movie's end could just as well have been the movie's middle or even its beginning. There is so much inept nothing up on the screen I'm astounded that this movie was even released. It genuinely frightens me that the scriptwriter and the director are convinced that they created something worthy of viewers' time. Hubris at this level should be actionable in a court of law.

There is one thing – and one thing only – in "Her" that shows some creativity, intelligence and originality and sparks some interest. "Her" is meant to be set in the not-too-distant future. Casey Storm, "Her"'s costume designer, avoids the temptation to create futuristic costumes such as are found in Flash Gordon, Star Trek, or Star Wars. No one wears wings or anything metallic. Everyone dresses as if they shop at Salvation Army and purchase the most drab, frumpy clothes available. Collars are narrow. Pants are high-waisted. Color combinations are soporific. Theodore wears a lot of pumpkin orange. The clothes are just bad enough to be entirely believable as a fashion trend. 

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