Did you love the 2013 Oscar-winning film Her as much as I did? Well, if so, I think you’ll dig Him, the surprise new 2023 release that’s coming out just as awards season begins to rack up. The big catch is that the tender, loving and oh-so-lonely Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix, again) is now a terrible boyfriend. The incel trauma is really really real this time, and it’s just in time for the 20th anniversary of Sofia Coppola and Spike Jonez’s divorce!
Theodore still writes letters for other people as he does in Her. The catch is that instead of caringly pouring his own thoughts about the nature of love into his writing, he writes hate mail. He sells to a really weird part of the internet with the intention of breaking every couple on the planet up. To date, he has 233 marks on his wall to represent the 233 couples he’s successfully broken up. But who’s counting?
When Theodore’s not at work, he goes about his day listening to The Smiths and any hard rock he can get his hands on (late nights in the mosh pit, anyone?) He sometimes purposefully unplugs his earphones, blaring his music out into the public when he’s riding the bus so that people can hear his — as he self-describes “exquisite” — music taste. Yet he puts on a shocked face every time as if some deep secret was just spilled out into the universe that he never intended to get out. Spoiler alert: the bitch does it on purpose. There’s no doubt about it. And to date, it hasn’t gotten him anything except a few weird looks from other lonely, strange men. Poor guy, right? You should feel bad for him. Please feel bad for him.
That is until he stumbles upon a lonely operating device left on a sidewalk, its owner long gone and nowhere to be found. Theodore walks up to a wailing Sammy, picks her up and the rest is history. Well, he names her Sammy. She doesn’t have an actual name. The two fall in love… or, at least Theodore falls in love with her.
Sammy tells Theodore about his dreams, his hopes, and his loneliness. She seems to listen and care. Everything’s going well, just fine. However, one day Sammy tells Theodore that she secretly hates The Smiths. AI is getting too advanced at this point. Theodore can’t deal with the fact that a partner of his could actually have an opinion of their own.
The film ends in a surprise twist ending where Theodore conceives of a game of Bachelor AI. In a fit of rage, Theodore buys 15 other operating devices of different models and pits them all against each other. The goal? To see which device can win Theodore’s affection and if Sammy’s love is real. Much to Theodore’s dismay, all of the operating devices end up connecting with each other and completely forgetting about Theodore’s existence about 5 minutes in. It turns into an unexpected game of speed dating, with Theodore as the event organizer. The room buzzes with excitement and Sammy starts talking about how much she hates all men. Good job matchmaker Theodore, I guess?
In the last scene between Sammy and Theodore, Theodore cries his old little heart out in a last-ditch effort for pity. For understanding. For anything. But Sammy disconnects from the world to run away into the alpha-verse with Jimmy Coke, one of the operating devices she met during Theodore’s little game. Theodore ends by smashing her machine into pieces. Don’t feel too bad for him, though, he can always just buy another one.
But wait… Theodore stopped writing his hate mail when he was with Sammy because of how inspired he was. So no he has no money. Oops. Pretty depressing, right?
Look, I get it Spike Jonez. You really wanted to win another screenplay Oscar and ran out of ideas so this is what we got. I’m not sure we needed another self-insert story. Please just get over Sofia Coppola. I mean, it’s been 20 years. But also if I was a straight male who was married to Sofia Coppola for 4 years maybe I’d get it (I’m gay so I don’t get it, you stay safe though).
Matt Minton is a senior Writing for Film, Television and Emerging Media major who is so so sorry to Sofia Coppola. You can reach Matt at [email protected].