Swanner: Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore, a man who is going through a painful divorce and, through the process, falls in love with his computer’s operating system, Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). Director Spike Jonze takes us into the near future, where today’s lonely hearts can find companionship with a program that meets all their physical and emotional needs. It felt like there wasn’t enough concept to fill its 2 hour and 6 minute running time… so what about my needs?
Judd: There was plenty of concept to fill the 2 hour run time. The movie is not only about Theodore and Samantha’s relationship, but also Samantha’s growth and evolution as a personality – which Johansson played brilliantly. Normally, I don’t particularly care for movies like this because they ask for too much suspension of disbelief, and there were moments where I was arguing with myself that programmers would not let a product like Samantha hit the shelves, but once I got passed that, I thought the movie was touching and solid.
Swanner: Please, once we got passed the gimmick, it turned into a romantic comedy. I’m not saying it wasn’t well made, it was, but after they both got jealous, I started to guess which romcom shtick would come next. One thing I did like about this movie is that it will get people talking, hopefully to each other, about how people don’t talk to each other. I loved the scene on the subway stairs when Theodore finally realizes that everyone around him has an operating system that they are talking to. I think you like the movie because it would be the perfect relationship for you. I did think Johansson was really good as the Operating System, especially due to the fact that she was brought in at post-production to replace Samantha Morton, who just wasn’t giving the character the emotion Jonze needed.
Judd: You’re just pissed because Samantha and Theodore never had a pillow fight and there was no way to cast Diane Keaton as the mother-in-law. I’ve never seen a standard/conventional romcom address the issues of open relationships and the fact that one person was in love with something that, at best, didn’t exist and, at worst, may have been programmed to manipulate its user. I will agree the worst parts of the movie are when Jonze forces the cutesy routine on us, which are probably the moments you enjoyed most, and it’s too bad he couldn’t have come up with something more original to match the rest of his script. A walk on the beach with a cell phone is still a cheesy walk on the beach. Fortunately, Jonze focused more on the melancholy idea of love rather than throwing softballs to win a teddy bear, which I found very satisfying – but I can understand how it left you wanting.
Swanner: I can see where the idea behind this film would be desirable to some people. It would be nice to have someone to talk to when you come home to a lonely house. Eating dinner is always more fun if there’s someone else there to share your day with. Playing video games and watching endless hours of scheisse videos can be pretty pathetic “all alone, but with a friend” – even a computerized one is better than the alternative, I guess. I didn’t hate the movie. I think, had it been shorter, the gimmick wouldn’t have burned out so fast. Like Gravity, you can’t let the audience spend too much time over thinking the plot.
Judd: It’s a gimmick, yes, but it’s not nearly as shallow as you seem to think it was. It’s a shame you can’t see passed the lonely guy and his love-bot, but when you’ve been spoon fed nothing but stock characters in these kinds of movies, it’s hard to think beyond the surface. Perceptual blindness. It’s easy to miss something you’re not looking for. I didn’t see a stock romance film with a gimmick. I saw a romance film with a wholly unique and genuine twist that took the film outside of its romcom realm. It’s a movie with a strong script, strong performances and a reason to go to the theaters this January, when you’d rather stay at home recovering from the holidays. The only downfall is that the gooey moments are a bit forced and everyone dresses like they shop at American Apparel.
Swanner: 2 Stars
Judd: 2 Stars