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Instant Karma Review

September 21, 2021 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Instant Karma Image Credit: Applied Art Productions
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Instant Karma Review  

Instant Karma Review

Stew Jetson– Jeff
Samantha Belle– Samantha
Nancy Mercurio– Mary
Karl Haas– Harry
AC Larkin– Clint
Keegan Luther– Emilio

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Mitesh Kumar Patel
Screenplay by Scott Gore and Matt Midgette, based on a story by Mitesh Kumar Patel

Produced by Applied Art Productions

Not Rated
Runtime– 100 minutes


Instant Karma, directed by Mitesh Kumar Patel, stars Stew Jetson as Jeff, a young man going through a serious stretch of, for the lack of a better phrase, bad luck. Working for a ride sharing service after losing his “real” job, Jeff deals with jerkoff riders day in and day out. He gets no respect from his mother (Mary, played by Nancy Mercurio), and while his girlfriend (Samantha, played by Samantha Belle) clearly loves him you get the sense that she’s worried about Jeff’s future/isn’t totally onboard with his ride sharing job (although, to Samantha’s credit she does consider it a real job). And then Jeff’s car dies in the middle of giving a passenger a ride somewhere and that passenger threaten to give him a “zero” rating. What the hell is he going to do if he doesn’t have a functioning car in order to do his “non-job” job? And what if people, as a result of that zero rating, don’t want to use him anymore?

After some worrying and whatnot, Samantha tells Jeff that he can use her boss’ car, as he will be out of the country for several months on business. So Jeff takes Samantha’s boss’ car and continues on with the drudgery of his ride sharing job. Jeff then gives twenty dollars to the homeless guy that helped him move his broken down car to the side of the road (the homeless guy is Harry and is played by Karl Haas). A little while after that Jeff finds two hundred dollars on the floor of the car. Where the hell did that come from? Did one of his passengers lose two hundred dollars? Or is something else going on? Has Jeff’s luck changed for the better?

So then some stuff happens, Jeff experiences several more unexplained moments of good luck (a trunk full of free groceries, boxes of new and free sneakers), and Jeff and Samantha figure out what the heck is going on. It seems as though Jeff is experiencing a phenomena known as “instant karma,” where for every good deed he does for someone (like Harry) while driving around he will be rewarded by the universe several times over. So Jeff and Samantha start coming up with ways to both spread happiness and reap the rewards for doing so. How long will the good luck/instant karma last? How long will it take for bad things to start happening again?

The first three fourths of Instant Karma take you on a sort of whimsical ride with Jeff as he figures out what instant karma is all about, what good he can do for the world, and what he wants for doing those good deeds. Does he want money? Does he want other material goods? It’s fun seeing what happens next with Jeff’s good deeds and trying to figure out if and when it will all go south for him. Because you know, at some point, something bad is going to have to happen. It’s not like Jeff or Samantha or necessarily greedy but you know that, since Instant Karma is a movie, that there’s going to be a change in luck/karma and Jeff is going to have to make different choices. The last quarter or so of the movie deals with that big change and, as a result, the tenor of the movie changes. Suddenly Instant Karma is no longer a sort of whimsical romp but is instead a life or death struggle. Will Jeff and Samantha get out of it alive? Will their karma change?

Instant Karma works best when it’s sweet and, in a way, heartwarming. It’s fun watching Jeff put good out into the world and then receive something good in return. It’s also fun watching Samantha try to figure out how to make instant karma work for Jeff in bigger and bigger ways. This instant karma escalation is also where the movie develops a low level tension because you just don’t know how they’re going to screw it all up (because that has to happen for there to be a movie). The last quarter of the movie works, as there’s a great bit of casting to help along the danger Jeff and Samantha find themselves in, but the last quarter is also seriously hindered by the thing that hinders the movie as a whole. And what is that? The movie’s pacing.

Instant Karma would be better served by a swifter, lighter pace. There should never be a moment where you think the movie is dragging. Instant Karma starts out deliberately, which is fine, but at about the halfway point it starts to drag big time and it doesn’t pick up again until towards the end. If the pacing had been quicker the last quarter of the movie would have felt more dangerous and would have been scarier than it is. As it currently exists Instant Karma works fine but, at the same time, you wish it didn’t drag so much.

The casting, in general, is fantastic. Stew Jetson does a great job as Jeff. Jetson gives Jeff a melancholy at the beginning of the movie that is oddly compelling. Every time he attempts to explain his predicaments in life you get the sense that he’s trying to remain positive despite all of the shit the world is throwing at him. He doesn’t ’always succeed, but he does keep going with his job and life in general. You end up admiring his tenacity and wanting him to succeed. That’s exactly what you want for this kind of movie.

Samantha Belle does a fine job as Samantha, Jeff’s girlfriend. At first, once she figures out what’s going on with instant karma, you think that she’s going to go off the deep end and become oddly evil for some reason. Why is she getting upset when the scheme she comes up with Jeff doesn’t produce the specific results she wants it to? But she isn’t being evil. Samantha isn’t meant to be the movie’s villain. She’s just reacting to the situation she finds herself in. She’s making decisions anyone would likely make if they could do good deeds and then get rewarded for it. You can’t dislike her.

Nancy Mercurio is funny as Mary, Jeff’s mother. She only has a few scenes but she has amazing “loving but kind of adversarial” chemistry with Jetson. Their scenes where she tries to explain how she doesn’t think working for a ride share service is a “real” job are damn near perfect. They also share a nice scene where they ride around that will make you smile.

Karl Haas is amazing as Harry the homeless guy. From the funny signs he always has to his “can do” attitude you instantly like him and, when the movie gets fantastical, you’re just waiting to see if he’s a ghost or angel or something. I won’t say what Harry actually is but when you find out you will cheer for him in a big way. I think I would like to see a movie all about Harry and his life. The man has a story to tell that people would probably want to watch. I know I would.

And then there’s AC Larkin as Clint. All I’m going to say about Clint is he seems like a fun guy to hang around with as long as he doesn’t want to kill you. You really, really, really don’t want to be on this guy’s bad side. I think I would like to see a movie about Clint, too. It would no doubt be fascinating.

I liked Instant Karma quite a bit. It drags a bit too much and would be better served by a swifter, lighter pace, especially through the first three fourths of the movie, but there’s so much positivity through its runtime you can’t dislike it in any major way. It’s perfectly cast and, above all else, is fun. The world needs more fun in it. If you’re in the mood for a fun movie, be sure to check out Instant Karma when it’s unleashed upon the world. It’s definitely worth your time.

See Instant Karma. See it, see it, see it.


So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: None.

Explosions: None.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: A nice, upbeat opening song, two very annoying and disrespectful passengers, a weird drink that no one should ever want to consume, disappointment, a messed up car, homeless guy with a funny sign hooey, a pissed off passenger, a new car, sudden money, trunk popping, bags of groceries, food making, sneaker hooey, serious wine drinking, a box of booze, steak hooey, a montage of “good deeds,” a watch, a paper bag full of jewelry, an expensive watch and lots of rings, a discussion, a purse filled with money, a nice little ride with Mom, pillow throwing, a stick of gum, scarf hooey, a fixed up car, talk of drug stealing, a lack of chapstick, a robbery, multiple big conversations, gigantic TV buying, a shifty looking passenger, big money, a misunderstanding that could very well end badly for damn near everyone, multiple threats of bodily harm, chair bondage, paper eating, a foot chase, a sort of slow car chase, face hitting, begging, and some of the niftiness closing credits I’ve ever seen,

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: A nice, upbeat opening song that the main character sings while driving around because the song is on the radio, a positive pitch for a drink that helps with constipation and whatnot, “It’s fermented,” a guy making $100 on his first day at his new job, talking about India, a homeless guy with multiple funny signs, a homeless guy’s sign that says “Spread some cheese on this broke cracker,” a guy named Josh West from Vanilla Aardvark, whatever that is, Casanova Bros Pizza and Pasta, smoothie making, a brief espresso making montage, talk of instant karma, a priest that kind of looks like Harvey Keitel, a pink shirt, a license plate that says “CARMA,” talk of Chicago, airsoft target shooting, the God of Karma, a “two choices” trick, and some of the niftiness closing credits I’ve ever seen.

Best lines: “Marketing is a good major,” “Have fun with the shrooms,” “Jeff, you know that’s not a real job, rights?,” “Have you ever gotten a zero rating?,” “How are you going to be a U-Lift driver with a piece of crap for a car?,” “Thank you, general. Your majesty,” “I hope you didn’t put a dead body in there,” “What are you making me for dinner?,” “I got it! I got it!,” “You want to give wine to a homeless guy?,” “You lost your good luck charm,” “Hey, Mom. What’s wrong?,” “Did you just say what I do for U-Lift is a real job?,” “What are people saying about me?,” “So that’s your secret? Pancakes?,” “Who are you and where are you taking me? Gotcha!,” “Wow. That’s a big gun,” “I can’t live without my chapstick,” “So, did you really pee your pants?,” “Stop! Please! I feel like you’re interrogating me,” “You should be careful. The crazies come out at night,” “I’ve got a U-Lift driver that’s a spy,” “Sam, we’re millionaires,” “Better hurry. We gotta get out of here!,” “Jeff! You stole my fucking money!,” and “You’re driving like your Mom!”

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
I liked Instant Karma quite a bit. It’s a terrific low budget drama with wonderful fantasy elements that makes you smile when it’s over. It drags a bit too much and would be better served by a swifter, lighter pace, especially through the first three fourths of the movie, but there’s so much positivity through its runtime you can’t dislike it in any major way. It’s perfectly cast and, above all else, is fun. The world needs more fun in it. If you’re in the mood for a fun movie, be sure to check out Instant Karma when it’s unleashed upon the world. It’s definitely worth your time. See Instant Karma. See it, see it, see it.

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Instant Karma, Bryan Kristopowitz