Did you share my disappointment at the end of Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are when little Max is told definitively that there is no King, nor is there any real destiny waiting for him? And all the longings of his heart don’t really point to anything? But, hey kid, at least you’ve got a mom who loves you. You can be glad about that! But ultimately your life is meaningless.
I remember just making a low snorting sound and mumbling something like “well, that’s dumb.” And I went on with my evening.
That disappointment is nothing at all compared to the disappointment you’ll feel after seeing Spike Jonze’s latest, Her. Frankly, I recommend not watching it at all and finding a good way to use your valuable time, and so to encourage you, here’s a quick critique.
In Her, Theodore (played to perfection by the always marvelous Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with Samantha, an OS (Operating System) he’s installed on his computer. She’s basically an incredibly sophisticated App, who can learn from her experiences (and at an exponential rate), and she in turn falls in love with Theodore.
It would have been interesting to follow Spike Jonze’s exploration of their relationship, except for the premise that is clearly established towards the beginning of the movie: what we call a person, whether human or OS, is nothing more than received DNA and whatever experiences he or she may have throughout life. That’s it. That is the sum total of a person. The movie’s philosophy ipso facto rejects the soul, God, transcendence, and ultimate meaning; persons do nothing other than wander around trying to satisfy personal needs, and what the director seems to think is love is mostly just self-gratification.
It’s depressing. As Samantha quickly increases in experience, she becomes more complex. Somehow, this complexity means that she doesn’t have to love Theodore exclusively anymore, and Theodore is presented as an immature baby for resenting it. She ends up being in a “love” relationship with over 8,000 people, yet she assures him that fact doesn’t mean she loves him any less—in fact, she says, she loves him even more. Yay!
So, ready to not watch Her now? Great. Get going, you crazy kids, and have a great night!