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Her | 2013 | R | - 7.4.8

A divorced and lonely man (Joaquin Phoenix) works as a professional writer of love letters for other people, but remains isolated in his personal life. When he purchases a new computer operating system he finds that its Artificial Intelligence voice (Scarlett Johansson) seems very human and he falls in love with her. Also with Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Chris Pratt and Olivia Wilde. Directed by Spike Jones. [2:00]

SEX/NUDITY 7 - A computer AI (Artificial Intelligence) complains to her owner that they never have sex (verbally) any longer and he says that it is normal, because the relationship is no longer new; she seems to accept this but she contracts with a woman to act as the AI's body in a sexual encounter with the AI's owner; the woman wears a beauty mark on her lip (it is a microphone through which the AI speaks to the man) and the man and the woman both wear earplugs connecting them to the AI and the computer system; the woman kisses and rubs against the man and he rubs her breasts through her dress while standing behind her; she dances in a writhing manner as he sits on a couch and she straddles him while her skirt rises to reveal her bare thighs; he rubs her breasts and buttocks through her dress and then removes her dress over her head and we see her wearing a bra and tight panties that reveal some cleavage, bare abdomen, bare thighs and legs; the man tells the woman that the event is too strange and he cannot continue, causing the woman to cry and lock herself in a bathroom where we hear the female AI and the woman arguing.
 A man inserts a wireless earplug that connects him to his personal computer and smartphone and he hears news that a woman took provocative pictures of herself while pregnant; we see on the phone screen a photo of a nude woman with a swollen belly in a profile view, her arms covering her breasts, but revealing bare shoulders, arms, back, side, swollen belly and thighs; later, the woman drops her arms, walks toward the camera and we see full frontal nudity that includes bare breasts, swollen belly, and pubic area.
 A female computer voice encourages a man to go on a date and he meets a woman for a date one night; during dinner, the woman says to him, "You're cuddly and [sexual reference deleted]" and he laughs; after dinner, he kisses her passionately in a close-up on a sidewalk and the woman asks him to use his tongue; a close-up shows their tongues entering each other's mouths as she reaches down and begins to unzip his trousers, but suddenly stops and asks, "You're not gonna [sexual references deleted] and then not call me, are you?" to which he replies, "I don't know. Maybe we should call it a night." (the woman becomes sad and angry and walks away).
 At night in bed, clothed in a T-shirt and under covers, a man inserts his computer earplug, calls a phone sex service called "Women Who Cannot Sleep at Night" and connects with a voice that says, "I like to sleep with my [anatomical term deleted] against you and wake up feeling your [sexual reference deleted]" as she begins to moan in a sexual way and she asks the man to help her with a dead cat (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details); the man talks about the cat as the female voice moans more loudly and shouts as if the woman is climaxing; she thanks him and hangs up.
 A man says to his computer's voice, "I want to put my arms around you and kiss you" and the voice says that she has physical and emotional feelings; the screen goes black and we hear the female voice and the man's voice moan in a sexual manner, shout "Oh my God" and shout in climax as the scene ends.
 We hear that a woman's husband left her to join a religious cult and that she has bonded romantically with a female AI; on her home computer, the AI laughs and makes a cartoon of a woman rubbing her crotch against the corner of a refrigerator briefly. A computer asks a man what anal sex is like and he looks surprised; the computer's AI draws a primitive line drawing of a nude woman and a nude man on a smartphone screen (outlines, but no details), her bottom against his armpit; the AI says that this might be anal sex and the man laughs. A male letter writer tells a male friend and the friend's girlfriend that the writer's girlfriend is a computer operating system; they like the idea and the four of them go on a picnic double date and that night the writer sets his smartphone up so that the AI can watch him sleep; the next day the writer tells a female friend that his girlfriend is an AI and the woman smiles and asks, "You have sex together?" and the man says that they do (his friend smiles again).
 A man in the process of divorce says that he is lonely and flashbacks show two scenes of him in bed with his wife (he's shirtless and revealing his chest and arms while she wears a sleeveless T-shirt that reveals bare arms and the side of one breast); she says she loves him so much that she will kill him and three additional flashbacks show the couple clothed and hugging briefly. A man and a woman kiss briefly and the scene cuts to a scene of the woman holding a baby. In an office reception area, a man sits in an office chair and a woman sits in his lap. A man in a mountain cabin dances while wearing his long underwear and long-sleeved shirt while his computer AI watches him through his smartphone.
 A man in love with his computer AI finds that the female AI is in love with over 600 other people, both men and women; the man looks sad and angry (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details) and the next day the AI finds another AI and she asks her computer owner if she can go away and spend time talking to the other AI and the man grudgingly agrees. A man's female computer AI breaks off their romantic relationship and he looks sad; that night he dreams of standing in a snowstorm, smiling and embracing a woman whose face we cannot see; the man wakes up, walks to a female friend's apartment down the hall and the woman tells him that the same AI broke up with her as well.
 A male receptionist tells a male letter writer that the writer is part man and part woman to be able to write such beautiful letters. A man and a woman sign divorce papers and the man tells the woman that he is in love with a female AI; the woman says that he could never handle real emotions with real people and he later leaves her a phone message that he will always love her, anyway.
 A short Pillsbury doughboy-like cartoon says that women get fat and are a nuisance; he slaps himself on one indistinct buttock cheek, then thrusts his pelvis a few times and says women are good for sex. An office features men and women in cubicles, writing love letters as a profession; they read letters aloud and we hear some of the sentiments including, "Lying naked next to you in that tiny apartment," "I love you" and, "A couple is making love in the next room"; we later hear, "I want to hear about the guy that stares down your shirt at lunch."
 A beach scene shows many men and women wearing shorts, bikini suits and one-piece swimsuits; we see the bare thighs and legs of women and bare lower legs of men, along with women's bare arms, shoulders, abdomens and some cleavage as well as a few men's bare chests and backs. In a shower scene, we see water dripping from a man's face in close-up as he looks into the camera; the scene cuts to his bare feet and ankles, with water running onto them.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 4 - A woman on a phone sex line (please see the Sex/Nudity category for more details) asks a man to talk about an imaginary dead cat; while she is in moaning sexually, he says he is picking up the dead cat and strangling her with its tail, upon which she shouts, cries in climax and hangs up.
 A virtual video game fills an entire living room; the man playing the game with a spaceman avatar encounters a doughboy-type cartoon character that berates him and tells him a dozen times "[F-word deleted] you."
 A crowded street scene shows hundreds of people rushing through Los Angeles, wearing earplugs that connect them to their own personal AIs; some of these men and women laugh, others shout in anger and all of them use exaggerated hand gestures and nearly hit one another occasionally; one man, unable to connect to his own AI, runs through the crowd, falls on the sidewalk, gets up and runs down into a subway entrance where he sits on a step and finally connects with his AI; we hear him arguing loudly with her and he becomes angry when he learns that she is the same AI on the computers of over 8,300 other people and he looks heartbroken when she refuses to agree to stop talking to the others. A computer AI shouts and cries at a man for not calling her enough; they argue briefly and he promises to call more often. A man, a woman and a female AI voice argue after an unsuccessful sexual event among the three and the woman leaves tearfully in a taxi; the man and the AI continue to argue for some time.
 A giant outdoor TV screen shows a large owl descending toward the audience with its talons outstretched; it seems about to snatch a man sitting on a short wall in front of the screen, until the man rises and walks away.
 A man stands in a pine forest during a snowstorm, looking sad and he cries briefly with tears running down his cheeks. A man and a woman, both looking sad, walk up a fire escape stairway in a high-rise apartment building and sit on the roof, watching the sunrise.


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LANGUAGE 8 - About 33 F-words and its derivatives, , 4 scatological terms, 5 anatomical terms, 1 mild obscenity, name-calling (weird, freak, insane, crazy, fat, fatty, creepy), stereotypical references to men, women, AI, loners, perfect mothers, writers, controlling people, 5 religious exclamations (e.g. Oh My God, Oh God, God).


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SUBSTANCE USE - A man drinks from a bottle of beer in his kitchen, a man and a woman drink from tall cocktail glasses at their restaurant dinner table and each one says in turn that "I'm a little drunk" as the woman giggles, a man pours himself a drink from a bottle of clear alcohol and drinks it with dinner, and two glasses of wine sit on a table at a restaurant (no one drinks). A woman complains to a waitress that her ex-husband wanted to put her on Prozac and the waitress seems embarrassed and walks away. Many people seem to have a sort of technology addiction and are shown constantly wearing wireless earplugs and talking to their computer systems.


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Communication, social isolation, relationships, love, desire, divorce, fantasy vs. reality, Artificial Intelligence, technology addiction, mental health.

MESSAGE - Computer technology can be both isolating and help us learn to create better human relationships.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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