M. SCOTT MORRIS: Catching up with an odd love story



I felt miserable on Wednesday morning for two reasons: The stomach bug that hit me earlier in the week was still whacking away, and I was in no condition to write the movie review in time for deadline.

Now, I’m something approaching normal, which is about all I can hope for in the best of times, and I want to catch up on old business to tell you about “Her.”

It’s a Scott Morris movie, the kind I love but I’m pretty sure most people would find weird and strange.

I find it weird and strange, too, but in a good way.

Spike Jonze wrote and directed this film about a lonely guy named Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) who lives in the not-too-distant future and falls in love with an operating system named Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson).

That’s odd, no matter who you are. I initially thought of HAL 9000, the ship’s computer that goes haywire in “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

But “Her” isn’t a thriller or a space opera or even much of a science fiction story. It’s a romance between two beings.

It’s at times beautiful and profane, and anyone who watches it should have a comfort level with the “F word.”

Jonze won best original screenplay at the Golden Globes and he’s nominated in the same category for the Oscars.

“Her” is in competition for best picture at the Oscars, though it’s a long shot. Even with its high concept, the movie is too simple to win. Academy voters prefer their winners to have more moving parts than Jonze employs.

Awards are secondary to our purposes here, anyway. A movie is supposed to catch your attention and keep it until the closing credits. “Her” does that while also giving the viewer something extra – maybe a glimpse of what is or what could be.

Jonze’s screenplay is ably brought to life by Phoenix, who’s often the only character on screen while intriguing, happy or depressing things happen. Johansson’s vocal performance is amazing because it allows us to “see” Samantha’s transition from newly created operating system to something far more profound.

Amy Adams is understated and Olivia Wilde goes over-the-top, and both performances are exactly what the movie needs. Equally fitting are Chris Pratt and Rooney Mara.

Before the movie started, I wanted to know how this peculiar love affair would play out on screen. When the credits rolled, I wanted to stay in my seat to see if “Her” had anything else to reveal.

There’s a good chance “Her” isn’t for you, and that’s why I consider it a Scott Morris movie. Scott Morris movies seldom make much money at the box office. Then again, they’re usually not up for best picture, either.

If you’re interested, better hurry. “Philomena” was at the Malco in Tupelo for two weeks, then it was gone. “Her” is also at the Malco.

M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@journalinc.com.

Click video to hear audio