Appiness (2020)

Two high school friends reconnect after one loses his job and get together to create the best, coolest, most trending new app to help shy people connect. Along the way, they learn a lot about themselves, each other, and life.

Written and directed by Eli Batalion, Appiness is a comedy that is rooted in something a lot of millennials (and others) will connect with, that need to find what it is you really want to do in life while trying to survive and make a living. It’s an apt film for the current state of young adult life, showing that some are forced to go back to their parents and some just don’t know what to do with themselves anymore. Here there are also a lot of other easily identifiable current trends and obvious things in here from the app building to the Ted Talk-like things, the social media, the programmers Olympics to the quirky fashion, the nerdy talk, the introverts being pushed around. It’s a lot of clichés and it does some good with them and goes in some of the obvious directions with others. The stories crams as many bits and pieces of what it’s like to live within a phone and social media obsessed world. It works for most of the film, but the story does feel a bit thin and predictable at times, something that’s too bad considering the feel of the film as a whole works pretty well for it. The moods established are fitting to the different parts of the film, even the in-your-face ones. The film has a story that works overall, but doesn’t feel particularly original.

The cast here is decent in how they each handle their parts, none are grating, but none really come up on top of the pile. It feels a bit middle of the road while being entirely ok. There’s plenty talent here but it all feels like it’s just there, like everyone is playing some kind of hipster as they expect them to be. They all work well together, but it feels like something is missing, with most of them looking like they are doing some version of people, people that don’t feel 100% real. Which is too bad considering they all seem to have talent, it’s just not feeling like it’s all directed in the right way maybe. Or perhaps, it’s the type of characters they had, all feeling like that one co-worker you don’t really like, that college buddy you’re glad is gone, or that barista with the sense of humor that doesn’t quite click. The look of the film works with the story and feel of things, it adds to the quirkiness and the oddity of the story. It kind of works for it and kind of just adds to the things that may work against it for some.

Appiness is a film that will either work or not at all for each viewer with everything feeling a bit extra quirky, a bit extra hipster. The comedy works at times and some of the characters are just a bit less like the others, which helps the film move along. Something about it just didn’t work for this viewer while still not being bored or too annoyed, it was not super engaging or entertaining.