Charles is on a mission: he heard a “wonderful song” on his flight the previous day, and he wants to find out what it is. Unable to figure out the title and artist of the track, he’s now on the phone with the airline’s customer services as he flips through records at a local shop.
But dealing with the endless round of holds, waits and transfers on the phone proves frustrating, putting Charles through a uniquely modern hell just to simply find the one song that brought him joy during a rough time in his life. His temper gets the best of him, but in picking up the pieces afterwards, he gets a rare moment of grace.
Director Alex Medina, along with co-writer Juan Pablo Daranas Molina, has fashioned a comic short that, like many great comedy shorts, is an expanded scene taken to hilariously logical extremes.
What makes this short work is its total relatability, and its portrayal of the absolute absurdity of modern life. Very few people can’t relate to the frustrations of dealing with customer service that seems designed to thwart and even enrage consumers, instead of making them feel listened and heard.
But while the film’s situation is absurd, it’s still grounded in very relatable and understandable human emotions, functioning as a witty, revealing study of anger and aggression.
The lead performance by Jordan Rennick is both underplayed and outrageous, but there’s emotional truth in his portrayal on how we take the anger and helplessness we feel in one situation and turn it against someone in another entirely different but adjacent situation.
But by the film’s end, Charles has a moment of self-realization and vulnerability, realizing his own part in escalating a situation. The simple, quiet way he takes accountability — and the kindness he shows himself and others — complete his arc in an emotionally satisfying way that feels well-earned and organic in a way that’s sometimes rare in comedy shorts.
In this way, “Customer Service” is a wry, knowing object lesson in just how crazy modern life has become, and how we navigate tricky situations through acceptance, honesty and humor.