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Movie Review

Phil is addicted to his phone. He’s always distracted, portraying a fake life on Instagram instead of, you know, living a real one. But that’s how he prefers it. When you stay at home, binge Netflix and scroll through your social media feeds, there’s no chance you’ll be let down or hurt.

Then one day, Phil’s beloved device breaks and he’s forced to get a new one. As he sets up his personal preferences, he’s asked by virtual assistant, Jexi, if he’s willing to accept all the terms and conditions.

Without hesitating, Phil agrees. And what should be a simple agreement turns into a technological nightmare.

Soon, Phil’s every move is dictated and pruned by Jexi, claiming that her goal is to make his life “better.” And to some extent she keeps her promise. Phil starts making friends, catches the eye of a girl and even gets a promotion at work.

But as time progresses it becomes clear that Jexi and Phil have very different ideas of what makes life enjoyable. Jexi thinks that Phil’s at his best when he’s focused on … well, Jexi. And the more “real” Jexi becomes, the more Phil is forced to choose between his phone and the better parts of the new life he has created.

Positive Elements

Phil, for all of his flaws, is a kind guy who learns how to overcome his fear of failure and rejection throughout the film. He also learns how to live his life without an addiction to technology and finds that happiness is not found in front of a screen. And that’s something Plugged In can get behind.

Cate, Phil’s love interest, teaches Phil how to overcome his fears and to trust people. Cate also teaches him how to live a life without a constant need for technology and to find meaning and purpose in the present.

With Jexi’s help, Phil makes two friends named Elaine and Craig. Jexi also helps Phil stand up for himself and pushes him outside his comfort zone (though that comes with plenty of negatives, as we’ll see).

Spiritual Content

Phil and Cate make reference to the emoji “prayer hands” and the word “Namaste.” A guy shouts that he’s late for yoga.

Sexual Content

Jexi and Phil develop a very innappropriate, crude relationship. One night, Jexi assumes Phil wants to watch porn (as he apparently does nightly). She asks him about his preferences and turns it on in the background (we hear crude descriptions of various types of pornography, including S&M and lesbian, and we hear graphic sounds). Later, Jexi asks Phil to “plug and unplug” her, which quickly turns into a mimicry of sex. (Phil plugs and unplugs the phone charge as Jexi makes sounds and as her screen eventually reads “orgasm.”)

In one scene Phil decides to take a picture of his privates and send it to his love interest, Cate. The scene is grossly extended as he dances around the house without pants on (we see his exposed rear and a glimpse of his penis as well), and he takes multiple pictures of his genitals. Later, those pictures are somehow sent to everyone in his workplace. They depict full frontal nudity.

Phil and Cate kiss, make out and eventually have sex (we see Phil without a shirt, Cate in her bra. Later, the two lie on a couch apparently naked, but critical parts are covered with a blanket.)

Multiple crude, sexual jokes are made by Jexi as she talks with Phil about his sex life and other areas of sexual performance. We hear a litany of jokes about male and female anatomy, masturbation, virginity, perversion, butt waxing, sex addiction, orgasms, arousal, oral sex, sexual performance, sodomy and ejaculation.

Jexi calls Phil’s mom a “hooker.” Kai, Phil’s immature boss, has nicknames for everyone in the office; Phil is known as “prison lips” and a woman named Elaine is called “hot Asian girl.” Gay pride flags fly around San Francisco.

Violent Content

Phil attempts to ride his bike down a steep hill in San Francisco, one where many people supposedly die, and at the bottom he crashes into a car and is thrown into the air. A few people are knocked to the ground during a kickball game. Phil punches Cate’s ex-boyfriend in the throat.

Jexi encourages Phil to drive dangerously. We hear that a man gets into a terrible accident and is paralyzed for life (it’s assumed that Jexi causes this accident to get Phil a promotion). Jexi blows up a few luxury sports cars.

Crude or Profane Language

Jesus’ name is abused once and God’s name is misused more than 20 times, often paired with “d--n” and “d--mit.”

The f-word is used more than 60 times and the s-word is heard over 30 times. Other profanities include multiple utterances of “d--n,” “a--,” “a--hole,” “h---,” “b-lls” and “b--ch.”

The word “d--k” is used excessively, not only as an insult but also in reference to the male anatomy. We hear a few vulgar words used to describe the female anatomy as well.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Phil and Cate go to a Kid Cudi concert, smoke marijuana and get high. Denice, a phone saleswoman, compares Phil’s technology addiction to that of a “crack addict.” A woman jokes about “dropping acid” with a political figure. A group of people ask Phil if he wants to get drunk/stoned after work and later talk about going home to “get baked.” Phil and a few others meet up at a bar after work and consume beer and hard liquor. Parents consume wine while at dinner.

Other Negative Elements

Nearly everyone in the film concentrates on their phones to the expense of those around them. Phil learned this behavior as a young child as his parents always gave him a phone to distract him from adult conversations or arguments.

Jexi insinuates that Phil is too heavy and orders him a kale salad instead of his go-to meal. Jexi makes a reference to flatulence.

Conclusion

Jexi is interesting. The filmmakers have something important to say about the role of technology in our lives. After all, it’s not just Phil who can be obsessed and even manipulated by a phone. Today, instead of controlling the technology at our fingertips, we’re instead controlled by it.

And while the idea that our devices have the power to keep us from real connection is a scary reality, Phil is able to overcome it all as he pursues personal relationships.

Unfortunately, that message is largely overshadowed by vulgar content. While Phil dives into porn on his small screen, sexually graphic images are pasted across the movie’s big screen. Instead of steering clear of the behavior that the movie mocks Phil for, Jexi glories in it and amplifies it to a ludicrous degree, all played for crude laughs.

Some digital assistants might be helpful, but Jexi is quite the opposite. And as Jexi ruins Phil’s life, she wastes two hours of ours.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Genre

Comedy

Author

Cast

Adam Devine as Phil; Alexandra Shipp as Cate; Rose Byrne as Jexi (voice); Ron Funches as Craig; Charlyne Yi as Elaine; Michael Peña as Kai; Wanda Sykes as Denice; Kid Cudi as himself; Justin Hartley as Brody

Director

Jon Lucas ( )Scott Moore ( )

Distributor

Lionsgate

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

October 11, 2019

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Kristin Smith

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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Plugged In Content Warning

This Plugged In review contains information about graphic sexual or violent content. It is not suitable for all ages. Reader discretion is advised.
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