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'Her' getting high praise, but earns its R-rating

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Joaquin Phoenix in a scene from the film, "Her."
This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Joaquin Phoenix in a scene from the film, "Her."
Associated Press

The new Spike Jonze film, "Her," has a big-name cast, themes about love and technology, and a 92 percent "fresh" rating on the film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

It also has content that viewers may not expect from a comedy/love story being described as "touching," "tender" and "warmly enveloping."

The film features Joaquin Phoenix as "Theodore," a writer going through a divorce. With the setting being the not-too-distant future, Theodore buys a new computer operating system and soon falls in love with the voice (Scarlett Johansson). The odd relationship eventually turns sexual.

The film also stars Amy Adams as Theodore's friend and Rooney Mara as his ex-wife.

Film critic Roger Moore labels it a "sci-fi romance" and a "search for the essence of what we really want out of love, separating the physical from the psycho-spiritual meeting of the minds." Joe Gross from the Austin-American Statesman called it a "gorgeous fable."

At least two media resources for parents give the film a glowing review. However, the content advisories make it clear that "Her" isn't a gentle romantic comedy for broad audiences.

Common Sense Media describes the film as a "graceful, strange romance with intense moments of sexuality."

"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 site reads. It goes on to advise parents about swearing, mature themes and sex scenes.

Jane Horwitz of the Washington Post Family Filmgoer described the film as having a "rich, resonant script, striking design and minimalist score." She warned, however, that "Her" is "too sexually explicit and profane to recommend for under-17s."

"The film includes a few steamy, at times explicit, sexual situations. These occur by phone, computer voice and in-person ...," she writes. "The script features occasional very strong profanity and graphic sexual discussions." calls the movie an "often infuriating yuppie sci-fi fantasy about love and meaning in the post-smartphone era," and a far cry from the human-computer relationships found in family-friendly films of the 1980s.

Mick LaSalle of notes that "in this future world, in which everyone is interacting with machines and in which real women have to compete with operating systems, human beings have lost their social skills. Everybody is weird or on their way to becoming weird." He adds, "The film is glum yet light, an odd combination, and periodically it short-circuits its seriousness with flashes of half-hearted absurdity."

Several online reviews of "Her" mention that the movie is a pathetic yet realistic commentary on society today. The Boston Herald calls the film "a romantic comedy for all the young men in love with their phones."

IMDb's content advisory for the film (which may contain some spoilers) lists several uses of the F-word, as well as other profanity.


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