There's an Eric Newman in all of us.
In writer/director Eli Batalion's Appiness, Newman (played by Batalion) is an adorably nerdish wannabe tech boy wonder who, in reality, is a down-on-his-luck pencil pusher who finds himself unexpectedly laid off from the aforementioned pencil-pushing. When he runs into Raj (Varun Saranga), a long-lost techie buddy with an abundance of skills, his start-up scheming begins and is further activated by the presence of the multi-talented Jeanine Genet (Amber Goldfarb).
The three have billionaire dreams but a fast-food budget.
But hey, dreams come true. Right?
Appiness is the debut feature film from Batalion, a Canadian Screen Award nominee and creator of the acclaimed web series Yidlife Crisis. Before being picked up by indie distributor Gravitas Ventures, the film picked up a slew of indie fest awards including the Debut Filmmaker Award at the Calcutta International Cult Film Festival, Best Actress for Goldfarb at the Canada China International Film Festival, Best Comedy and Best Screenplay at the Vegas Movie Awards, as well as Best Editing, Best Feature and Best Humor at the Top Indie Film Awards.
The film now heads into distribution and will be available to rent or own January 28th on streaming services (including Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Google Play and Vudu) and Cable VOD (including Comcast, Verizon, DirecTV, and Dish) in the United States.
Appiness is a frequently laugh-out-loud funny comedy that breezes by at an 82-minute running time. The quasi-autobiographical story is a familiar one, especially in the techie world where it is set and where big dreams and big dreamers can be chewed up, spit out, re-swallowed, and then spit out again all within the same day. Dreams do, indeed, happen but even more dreams are shattered each and every day.
Appiness has a mostly gentle vibe, existing somewhere on the cinematic road to Office Space meets Silicon Valley, a quirky but sincere film with both an abundance of laughs and an abundance of heart. It's refreshing to see a character like Eric Newman taken seriously, almost heroic in a destined to fail kind of way, in a world where too often the Newmans of society become the butt of the joke. In Appiness, we don't so much laugh at Newman as we laugh with him.
He is awfully funny and Batalion brings him to life beautifully.
Amber Goldfarb's intelligent and attractive Jeanine Genet has a natural and believable chemistry with Batalion's Newman while Saranga's Raj fits perfectly and is a delight to watch.
Batalion's script is mostly on-point and keeps it both real and really funny. The truth is that with every big dream comes an even bigger reality, harsh truths prepared to smack you in the face and place you in a chokehold. Sometimes you have to laugh or you just might cry.
In Appiness, Batalion goes for the laughs.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic