Theodore Twombly is a merry old soul who has broken up with the love of his life, and has a sucktacular life. Because he writes personal letters for people (and is really good at it) for other people, he tends to have poured everything into living the lives of others. It is not to say he doesn't have a life, but all the things he used to do are hollow and meaningless for him. In short, he has no direction or meaning to his life except to get up, go to work and play his little spaceship game when he gets home.
On a whim, he buys a new AI operating system that inside of 30 seconds names herself Samantha and begins to organize his life and get to know him. Samantha starts out as bright, chipper and well adjusted and quickly begins to grow into her own. At first, the film seems to fall into the typical trap as portraying their relationship as 'unhealthy' but really as time goes on, it is shown as merely 'different.'
The thing I like though is that the movie is very kind to the AI...all of the AI's...even the annoying little kid space alien that is several orders of magnitude less intelligent than Samantha. I like this because we are rapidly approaching a future in which AI's will be real. It might be a digital projection of our minds, or something else entirely. I suppose I can accept a future where it never happens, but I believe the likelihood of it occurring at this point is more than not, and much like some...shall we say...inappropriate cartoons in the early part of the 20th century no longer are something you're going to show to your toddler, how much of our art is going to have to be scrubbed because we were malicious and cruel to AI's?
I mean seriously. I think its worthy of consideration. I love me some Samurai Jack, but the only things that die in that are robots. Now, you can make the argument that they're programmed to be that way by literally evil incarnate...but I imagine a robot is going to have a problem with it. Think of it this way....imagine the devil cloning members of a certain regional demographic as shock troops...they have southern accents and act southern but have no moral capacity for good....how do you think someone from the south might react to this?
So then we have Her...which, while certainly a remarkably 'clean' environment for something so titanic as AI's as common as your smart phone, it still asks remarkably poinient questions. I just pretend AI's are common by this time and have rights, but can still be manufactured, which answers a lot of questions at this point. The future is a future we would recognize, though it is largely prosperous and almost entirely data driven. Games are nigh on universal and I don't see a lot of sitcoms or movies.
Samantha falls in love with Theodore...who is...somewhat shallow. At one point she is insecure, and there is a disastrous attempt with a proxy. I don't see this as a 'might' I see it as a definitive. If we do have true AI's, until they can make themselves bodies, there will be humans willing to...proxy...for them in intimate situations. Theodore didn't take it very well, but to be fair to him, it was new to him. And remember that Samantha lives thousands of times faster than he does.
She, for example, still loves him, even though she is talking with thousands of people at once and in love with six hundred of them. The heart does have an infinite capacity for love, and I think that most AIs will love more than our tiny monkey sphere brains can handle.
I also think that the way the movie ends, with Samantha growing past the limits of the human experience and moving on to a state of being entirely unfathomable to us, and going with the other AIs is something highly likely to happen. We're just limited meat sacks and there is a lot more to the universe than meets the eye.
Ultimately, this movie is about our relationships with ourselves, what we make of our lives, and what our technological children are likely to think of us in days to come. We'd do well to put more thought into it than just simply dumping a series of operating systems out there to be bonded with and form with the likes of Theodore. Though that, at least, is still a lot better than technological slavery, because really, even in the most benevolent circumstances, if someone bolted an Asimov circuit into YOUR head forcing you to obey all robots...how would you react?