7 September 2014 | StevePulaski
A man's internal battle with social confidence
"This is John" is an early short of Jay and Mark Duplass, concerning John Ashford (Mark Duplass), a well-dressed man who returns home one day with a mission to record a coherent, audible answering machine message for his house-phone without stuttering, sounding too feeble, sounding too overpowering, or sounding too...off. For seven minutes, John desperately tries to sound as normal and as understandable as possible, and, at first, one assumes he's maybe a perfectionist, or even suffering from obsessive-compulsive-disorder, but as we go on, seeing John mercilessly and earnestly try to create an honest and effective message, we say perhaps he struggles from social confidence and self-esteem issues. This makes sense when we see John even put on a pair of glasses as he tries to record a message of himself sounding more assured and laidback. Based on this quirky short, it's not too surprising the brothers Duplass would go on to make films that really worked to illustrate and detail the complexities of the human spirit.
Films and short films inspire us to do things sometimes, be it up the courage to ask someone out, go out for a dream, believe in something, eliminate bad forces, accentuate positives and good forces, and many other things. "This is John" inspired me to change the answering machine message on my cell phone after five years. Write it off as a trivial notation if you may, but I consider that a lofty accomplishment.
Starring: Mark Duplass. Directed by: Jay Duplass.