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Operator Movie Review

We’re continuing our coverage of the 16th annual Phoenix Film Festival with yet another review of a movie the Pulse Movie Crew was lucky enough to check out at this year’s festival! It was our first experience at a film festival, and we couldn’t have asked for a better one. Our time at the festival might be over, but it’s still going on! The fun isn’t over! You can click right here to see movies, showtimes, schedules, and exclusive information about this year’s coolest film festival in the nation!

Still playing some catch up with this one that we saw on Saturday. Today I’m reviewing Operator. If you’ve been checking out my recent reviews you have probably seen that I didn’t know much about these movies coming into them, and this one was no exception. I’m sorry to beat you over the head with that sentence, but that’s just how it has been. This one went a little bit differently. I didn’t know anything about Operator, so I actually did a little research and came up with some information on a 2015 film called Operator that I had not seen. Well, this Operator had some pretty low ratings. I won’t say how low, but they were pretty low, and I let myself do something that I vowed never to do when I began writing movie reviews. I let the Rotten Tomatoes score dictate how I felt going into a movie. As it turns out, it was an entirely different film with the same title, and I was very wrong, so I would like to apologize to the film titled Operator I actually did get to check out for making prejudgements because once I started watching the movie, I sure didn’t believe it deserved the Rotten Tomatoes scores I thought it had. Anyways, let’s talk about Operator!

Operator 2016 2

Operator is directed by Logan Kibens and stars Martin Starr, Mae Whitman, Nat Faxon, Cameron Esposito, and Retta. When Joe, a software programmer played by Martin Starr, is looking for the voice of his artificial intelligence just cannot seem to find the right voice, he turns to his wife Emily, played by Mae Whitman, to be the “empathetic” voice of the operating system. He soon comes to see that he thinks that his wife is plain and predictable, so he turns to the operating system with his wife’s voice to be what he is really looking for in life. At first I compared it to 2013’s Best Original Screenplay winner Her, and it is somewhat similar, but also very different in many ways.

As I said, I was expecting to dislike Operator based on the Rotten Tomatoes score and other critic scores online, so I was being very unfair to the film. After just a little bit of time I realized that this definitely wasn’t the same movie because I really liked Operator. That and the premises aren’t even close to similar. I have to comment on what Logan Kibens did with this movie. This, though it may sound like 2013’s Her, is a very original concept. This man gets addicted to an operating system comparable to something I have talked to before. I have never even thought about the possibility of what happened in this movie, but now I can see how it can happen. It is comparable to a company I would call on the phone and request customer service from, so I enjoyed that aspect. I also have to note that Martin Starr was very good. If you haven’t had the chance to check out the television series Freaks and Geeks, do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s on Netflix, but it only ran one season before unfortunately being cancelled. You’ll see plenty of familiar faces, and one of them includes Martin Starr, and he may seem to always be the very expressionless and deadpan character, he kills it in this movie in the same type of role. As strange as he may have become, I bought his character, and though I did not always like his character, I still bought him. I also thought that Mae Whitman was phenomenal. She is typically cast as a high schooler because she generally looks much younger than she really is. She moved away from that in this movie and I thought that she was just so good. She has a monologue in this movie that gets a little dark, and it is just perfectly acted and perfectly delivered. The screenplay and director brought out plenty of strong performances, and I truly enjoyed Operator.

I do, as I do with most, have a couple of flaws to mention. First of all, I thought that the first act of the story was pretty fluffy. It was butterflies and unicorns, and maybe it pushed the envelope further than it should have in my opinion. I don’t need every movie to be dark, but the first act is pretty lovey and fluffy. My next and final problem with the movie occurred a few times with how the film is cut together in the editing room. Though I thought that the director did a good job telling the story and bringing out the best in his actors, I just wasn’t personally a fan of how some of the movie was cut together and how some of the shots worked directly with each other. It’s a pretty personal thing, and if I were to recall the last movie where that was one of my few flaws I would have to go back to The Big Short of last year. Again, it’s a very personal thing, but it’s just my opinion, so I have to mention it, and if you’re in the company of The Big Short that is nothing to scoff at.

Overall, I really liked Operator. I thought that it was very well directed, well written, and had really great performances. I thought that the story was very unique and original in the way that it was told and in what it was, and I really liked that aspect of the movie. Mae Whitman totally stood out from movies she has done in the past, and Martin Starr gives another good performance. It was even pretty funny. At most points in the movie I bought the characters and their actions, and the director does a good job shifting tone when he needs to. I had the few small problems with the movie such as the fluff and the way that multiple shots were cut together, but overall I enjoyed Operator, and I’m going to give it a 7.9/10.

Are you going to check out Operator? If you have seen it, what did you think? Comment and let me know! Did you make your way out to the Phoenix Film Festival? Comment and let me know! If you are out there definitely let us know either on this comment page or our new Twitter @pulsemoviecrew because we would love to talk with you. Also, if you would like some more information on the Phoenix Film Festival, you can click right here to see which movies are screening along with times, prices, and exclusive information about the festival. We are seeing multiple movies per day, so be sure to check back with periodically for more reviews and Pulse Movie Crew coverage! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

PHOTOS: Operator

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Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at movies@pulseradio.fm