Her

 
(i)

 

Graceful, strange romance with intense moments of sexuality.
  • Review Date: December 18, 2013
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Romance
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 119 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie's depiction of love is profound and moving, and shows us that love can happen in strange ways, not always when we're looking for it, and that it can change us deeply if we can be open to it.

Positive role models

Theodore may be dazed by his divorce and confused by his feelings for Samantha, but he nevertheless opens himself up to the experience. Also, he's a good friend and a writer who makes an effort at his craft, even if they're letters on behalf of, and for, others.

Violence

Contentious arguments between a couple shown in flashbacks.

Sex

Two instances where a man has a version of phone sex; pleasure is audible and extended. A woman straddles a man and kisses him. One image of a topless pregnant woman that becomes fodder for a sexual fantasy.

Language

Language throughout including: "d-ck," "a--hole," and "f--k."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Social drinking among friends.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Her is a beautiful, unusual romantic tale whose protagonist falls in love with a computer's voice, an offbeat coupling that may be difficult for younger viewers to comprehend. The film also takes on some mature themes, including the crumbling of a marriage and the mourning period that comes when a relationship breaks apart. Expect some swearing (including "f--k"), and scenes where a character has loud, enthusiastic sex with a voice. There's a bit of quick topless nudity and some sexy moments between adults.

What's the story?

Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) works for a website that sends out handwritten letters for others -- they don't actually write the notes longhand; they're generated by a computer. He's a master at the form. When he writes (i.e. dictates) a letter, it's passionate and heartfelt, and often plugs into the beating center of a relationship. His marriage, on the other hand, has suffered a fatal blow. His lawyer's waiting for him to sign the divorce papers, and so is his wife (Rooney Mara), but Theodore is in no hurry. He's bereft, isolated in his melancholy. An old friend (Amy Adams) can only jog him out of his funk once in a while, and she has her own problems. All of that changes when he updates the operating system on his computer (in this distant future, it's accessible with not just a desktop but an earpiece and a hand unit resembling an old-fashioned cigarette case), which comes alive with the voice of a woman (Scarlett Johansson), who promptly names herself Samantha. She's no disembodied computer voice, however; she's an evolving being, intelligent and flirtatious and easy to love. But is it love? And can it last?

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Few movies capture the magic and the heartbreak of falling in love in an unexpected, mind-bending way. HER is one of them. Though it's set in a sterile, somewhat disembodied future, where people seem permanently outfitted with earpieces connected to their computers, bidding them to cull through their emails, make appointments, pick songs, its essential question is about something entirely human: the joy and frailty of love. Spike Jonze's film is a delicate meditation on love, but it's jubilant, too. It's also unpredictable in the best way, skipping the simplistic solutions for something more interesting and complicated.

Joaquin Phoenix commits completely to his character, exuding a sadness and vulnerability that feels particular to Theodore but entirely understandable. He's the walking personification of the audience's experience with defeat and sorrow. You can almost feel his fibers awakening again from their doleful slumber when Samantha comes into his life, adding order, yes (that is her job), but also injecting a spirited companion to his ruminations. Johanssen also deserves kudos for lending Samantha personality and verve even though we never see her. In a way, Her is just as much about allowing yourself to be free as it is allowing someone else into your life. How wonderful that a movie that is, in one way, about how we surrender too much, too often to technology also reminds us to get in touch with our own humanity.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the relationship between Samantha and Theodore. How is their relationship similar to traditional couplings? How is it different? Is this kind of relationship really far-fetched?

  • What might the film be trying to say about the nature of love? Is this a movie about technology, or something much more human, like relationships?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 18, 2013
DVD release date:May 13, 2014
Cast:Amy Adams, Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson
Director:Spike Jonze
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Romance
Topics:Friendship
Run time:119 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language, sexual content and brief graphic nudity

This review of Her was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 11 and 16 year old Written bylightworker23 December 29, 2013
 

Great acting, but a little creepy & boring

NOT for kids 15 and younger. I rely on Commonsensemedia's judicious reviews & recommendations and I almost always agree. However, they were off with this one. We began watching it with our 16 year-old and she became very uncomfortable and left the room after a scene where the main character calls a phone sex line. My husband and I turned off the film shortly after because we found it to be a bit creepy and dull. The acting is great, however, and the story idea is not a bad one.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Teen, 17 years old Written byB-KMastah January 10, 2014
 

Timely, thought-provoking, funny, and touching.

This movie is amazing. It's a fully engaging and 100% believable exploration of what it is to be human and our desperation to connect with others, balancing drama and humor with perfect timing and context. The depiction of the future was perfect because it was subtle and just familiar enough to be relatable, but the thing is that I honestly could see stuff like this happening within my lifetime. (Namely, our protagonist works for a company that writes love letters for other people.) The concept is so timely yet avoids being odd or unintentionally comical because of the direction and actors' awareness of the subject matter. The acting is amazing across the board; Joaquin Phoenix is perfectly cast and captures every emotion perfectly and Scarlett Johannson creates a character with only her voice without issues. That wouldn't be particularly impressive if the film was animated, but she's the leading lady and is never shown, but has just as solid of a presence. The whole film's production is well done: landscapes, subtle wardrobe changes, scenery, and technology, and the people the inhabit it are, again, so realistically shown. Everything bridges the gap between now and then, but this film is more human than any other. This film unfortunately did not open in a wide release until today (January 10) so it couldn't make it onto my Best of 2013 list, but rest assured, this WILL be on my Best of 2014 list. 9.5/10, incredible, two thumbs up, far above average, etc.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 14 years old Written byJustin Rivera March 16, 2014
 

One Of The Greatest Films Of Our Time

A heartbreaking and thought provoking work of contemporary style art. This film raises questions regarding humanity, what is real and what is not, and the limits of evolution, "Her" will have you pondering life itself long after you've left the theatre. It's sophisticated yet unflinchingly engrossing, tear-jerking yet undeniably hilarious. Spike Jonze has given us a unique and original film, that is completely flawless. Beautiful cinematography and visuals, stunning performances, flawless execution, an intelligent script and a philosophical premise. "Her" is a film that should definitely be seen, it is a very important film that brings up questions regarding the idea of love. However, this film is not for those who lack maturity. This film has sexual themes in it (nothing too graphic besides a very brief topless scene ) and the thing about those themes is that immature teens will definitely not take this film seriously. This film is for those who like intellect and meaning in a film, it's not about a mindless romance between a man and an operating system, there's more to it than that. If you think about it, this film uses personification to it's advantage. It's supposed to make you think that this operating system is like a person, she thinks, she feels, she experiences emotion. As far as content goes, this film is all good, but as far as the message goes, it's all about maturity level. So to be clear, I did not mark this film "pause 14 and under" due to it's content. This film is a masterwork that should be seen due to it's originality, it's superb acting and it's importance.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing

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