Bypassing the sarcastic vampire approach of last year’s SUMMER OF BLOOD (S.O.B.) for a film revolving around severed body parts and infidelity, director Onur Tukel returns with APPLESAUCE, a film that not only supplies enough laughs and awkward moments to fill an Andy Kaufman special, but also raises the question of whether or not sins of the past come back to affect the future. It’s a film that keeps its viewer wondering what will happen next, from the very opening of the film, to the moment the credits roll, and is by far Tukel’s best work yet.
Playing the Ron Welz, a married teacher who does his best to get his students to think of hypothetical alternatives to various wars in history, just to get continually disrespected and never full getting his point across. Welz is a nice guy, an avid listener to a shock radio host, who raises the question of “What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?”. Wanting to get his past sin off his chest, Ron admits not only to the host, but also to his wife and their married friends, that while young and at college, he accidentally severed a man’s fingers off, and fled the scene.
Ron’s confession serves as a jumping point, in which each of the four main characters (Tukel, Trieste Kelly Dunn as his wife Nikki, and their best friends played by Max Casella and Jennifer Prediger) begin asking each other in private the same thought provoking question of the worst thing they’ve done in the past. Like playing with fire, APPLESAUCE throws its characters into a continual downward spiral, when it’s revealed that two of the characters had cheated on their spouses with each other. From that point on, the film becomes not only an entertaining and fresh game of one upping each other in the bedroom (and public bathrooms), but somewhat of a mystery, when after the infidelity confession, Tukel’s Welz character begins to receive severed body parts delivered to him, making him suspicious of everyone around him (especially of Casella’s Les character). There’s an on going feud between the two men that carries throughout the entire second half of the film, a feud that provides quite a few hilarious moments, including one of the most gut-busting lines having to do with watching one’s back. Paired with a great performance by the always wonderful Dylan Baker (TRICK ‘R TREAT) as radio host Stevie Bricks, the entire cast shines, all contributing in making the film full of some of the most memorable and comical situations in quite some time.
A film full of charm and wit, with a little mystery thrown in for good measure, APPLESAUCE is a rare and very original take on the relationship drama and mystery genres, excelling quite well in both. Just from the time between his SUMMER OF BLOOD and APPLESAUCE, Tukel has grown as a filmmaker, getting better at spinning a tale with enough ingredients to cover multiple genres and tones, and not only getting memorable performances from the actors involved, but also doing one hell of a job giving viewers a character that you genuinely WANT to follow. APPLESAUCE radiates with wit and charm and is one of the funniest films of the year, a title that it confidently demands.