4 Reasons Why I Hated “Her”
Hollywood loves Her, as evidenced by its 5 Oscar nominations (Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Score, Song and Production Design). And it’s no wonder—it’s a movie about a man in love with his phone, and what could hit closer to home in the iPhone-addicted film industry? I resisted seeing the film because I thought the trailer looked creepy and boring, but people kept telling me the movie was mismarketed and I should give it a chance because it’s a deep, timely and truly humane love story. So I finally saw it, and you know what: It’s creepy and boring. Here’s why:
1. Joaquin Phoenix is not acting when he plays a weirdo. Whether or not his whole Letterman meltdown/faux documentary I’m Not Here was a put-on, the guy is still a certifiable nutball. He relies on mannerisms to create his characters, like his tortured posture in The Master, or in the case of Her, wearing his pants even higher above his waist than Clint Eastwood does and constantly pushing his glasses up on his nose like Head of the Class‘ Arvid. Oh, and he grew a cheesy porn-stache for the role. We get it, Joaquin—you’re quirky. Do something different next time.
2. Scarlett Johansson’s best asset is not her voice. As my friend and fellow Cranky Guy Bret Watson observed when wisely declining to attend Her with me, who wants to see a movie where you hear Johansson’s scratchy voice but can’t see her voluptuous physique? Her smoky voice wears thin over time. In fact, Johannson was a last-minute replacement for a much better actress, the British chameleon Samantha Morton (Minority Report, Sweet and Lowdown), and the character’s name remains Samantha. I would’ve much rather heard what she did with the role, but as director Spike Jonze said, “when we got into editing, we realized that what Samantha and I had done together wasn’t working for what the character needed.” Or, more accurately, as the hysterical comedian Judy Gold quipped on Facebook, “I love Hollywood. Even the female voice of a computer operating system has be young, hot & thin.”
3. Amy Adams is the world’s most overrated actress. At least she didn’t get an Oscar nomination for Her to add to her collection of five, at least four of which (American Hustle, The Master, The Fighter and Doubt) were undeserved. Her least-seen performance, Junebug, was her best, aside from the Disney princess in Enchanted, which should’ve earned her a nod but didn’t. In Her, she’s typically bland as Phoenix’s platonic pal. At least their reteaming is less painful to endure than The Master, my least favorite film of 2012, but not by much. And that’s because…
4. Spike Jonze has lost his sense of fun. This is a guy who started out directing deliriously scrappy music videos for the likes of Weezer (the sublimely silly Happy Days homage “Buddy Holly”) the Beastie Boys (the ’70s cop spoof “Sabotage,” which may have inspired Phoenix’s facial hair in Her). Who sabotaged his funny bone?
His early film collaborations with writer Charlie Kaufman, Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, were deliriously hilarious and creative. Then he made Where the Wild Things Are, perhaps the most depressing kids movie ever, and now Her, which literally put me to sleep with its Hallmark Card dialogue, catatonic performances and somnambulent soundtrack. I woke up after a short mid-movie nap and stumbled across the hallway of the multiplex to wander back into The Wolf of Wall Street, my favorite movie of 2013, and re-watched a few of my favorite scenes, including the epic water fight between Leonardo DiCaprio and the shoulda-been nominated Margot Robbie and the boat scene between Leo and—no, not Kate Winslet—Kyle Chandler, who’s emerged as one of cinema’s most subtly riveting character actors (if you haven’t seen his work in The Spectacular Now, watch it now—it’s spectacular). But the real star of Wolf is Martin Scorsese, a man who may have lost his sense of fun mid-career (Kundun, anyone?) but has certainly gained it back with Wolf—the funniest, speediest, most purely pleasurable film I’ve seen in ages. Jonze needs to take a lesson from Marty and get Spikey again, because Her is a film without edges.