An American young wannabe inventor from deep in the heart of Texas named Johnson (I couldn’t help myself on that one) has invented what he believes will be the next big novelty item. He has a contact in Shanghai via Craigslist saying that they can make his product become a reality. Filled with excitement and glee, he takes his life savings and hops on a plane to China to meet said contact and make his dreams come true. But things take a nose dive when the contact is nowhere to be found and he finds himself stuck in a country where he has absolutely no knowledge of the language and decides to take matters into his own hands. He makes a new contact in the area he was supposed to meet his original contact and his adventure truly begins.
The thing that makes this film so special is that you truly believe that this actually happened. The guerilla style cinematography convinces you that what you are watching is a documentary and it feels that way. You also begin to root for Johnson, hoping he succeeds in his quest for novelty glory. One nice addition to the film is Johnson’s narration about famous novelty inventors like the joy buzzer’s Soren Sorenson Adams, the ant farm’s Milton Levine and the pet rock’s Gary Dahl; it’s quite informative. Yes, it is possible to learn from movies!
One of the best moments in the film is when he meets a young Chinese woman on a train and they begin to hang out with each other. The awkwardness between the two is something we can all relate to. I love it when they are trying to communicate with each other. Imagine yourself in that situation. You are trying to speak to someone who doesn’t speak your language. What is the one thing we all do? We use visuals to try and tell that person what we are trying to say. It’s a sweet scene and one that still resonates with me. Another scene is when he is handing out flyers to bring people to a meeting so that he can talk about his dreams and ideas. It’s one of those entrepreneurial things that make us realize that if we want to start something, we must gradually get to the top, though I’m sure you don’t need a film telling you that. When you find out what the product is that Johnson has been talking about the whole film, it’s a great reveal. Even if you don’t like the product that Johnson has made, you will at least remember it.
If you ever get the chance to watch this under the radar gem, I highly suggest you do and while the film is just about 90 minutes long, it’s a great, funny little film. It may be hard to discover but the search is worth it. Right from the opening scene, I was hooked and putting all my money on the table, I bet you will too.