Not everyone is a skilled pick-up artist. Most people are too shy to drum up a conversation with a stranger, to the point where it’s a mystery how most relationships even begin. Online dating has become immensely popular, as it takes the difficulty out of the hunt. There’s no risk of face-to-face rejection and you can view someone’s interests and information before even saying “hello”. Dorky engineer Paul Marks (Braden Lynch) has taken this one step further and created a dating app to end all dating apps: a virtual wingman that can read faces in a crowd and immediately transmit all their pertinent information to your screen.
Paul thinks the app is a game-changer, but if he doesn’t receive funding to sustain his invention in the next 24 hours, he’s going to lose it forever. So it’s off to the club to find Mike Diamond ( J.R. Cacia), a skeevy businessman that could be tempted to invest in Paul’s product. But before money exchanges hands, Mike wants a demonstration. Paul must use his app to woo the beautiful and seemingly unattainable Zoe Sawyer (Sara Sanderson), or watch his hard work disappear.
App is a small, charming story that almost works completely. The intentions of writer-director Alexander Berman are pure enough, as he tries to show us that when it comes to forming a bond with someone, nothing beats some old-fashioned human interaction. However, this point comes across weakly, since Paul would have had no chance with Zoe had he not had his app to start the evening. He eventually reaches an emotional point where his dedication to technology dwindles, but it’s through technology that he was able to get to that point at all.
The app itself is a rather creepy mash-up of Hal (of 2001: A Space Odyssey) and Samantha (of Her). App carries a romantic comedy tone throughout, but one could look at the blue, eyeless face on Paul’s phone and easily imagine this turning into a horror film. I’m glad Berman didn’t take his short in that direction, as it would have been too expected and unnecessary. App works best as it is: a clever and controlled foray into analyzing the current state of the human condition.
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