Kunle (Donald Elise Watkins) and his best friend, Sean (RJ Cyler), are both seniors in college
about to embark on an epic night of Spring Break parties. Sean has the whole night planned
out, including every party they will hit on their “legendary tour.” Kunle is down, yet mostly
concerned with finishing up his mold experiment in his lab, as his acceptance to Princeton is
hinging on the results.
They return to their apartment to pre-game, yet find that their roommate, Carlos (Sebastian Chacon), left the door open. As they enter with trepidation, Sean and Kunle discover a drunk, semi-conscious White female they don’t know on the floor and an oblivious Carlos, who didn’t hear her come in over the videogame blaring in his ears. Kunle wants to call the cops but Sean vehemently opposes the idea concerned how it will look when the cops show up (two Black men, one Latino man and a passed out White woman).
Together, Carlos, Sean and Kunle load the girl — who they nickname Goldilocks, but whose real
name is Emma (Maddie Nichols) — into Sean’s van, with the intention of taking her somewhere
safe rather than calling the police. Meanwhile, Emma’s sister, Maddy (Sabrina Carpenter), has
realized that Emma left the party they were at, and begins to search for her in a drunk panic
using Emma’s phone’s location. What ensues is a chaotic, hilarious, and tension-filled chase all
over town as our trio grapples with their differences while attempting to bring Emma to safety.
Carey Williams‘ Emergency is fascinating in that it starts out very much so like a blend between
an old-school coming-of-age film and a modern one along the lines of Olivia Wilde‘s Booksmart,
before eventually turning into a legitimately suspenseful comedy-drama. Surprisingly enough,
there’s also no shocking tonal shift that’s jarring and wildly noticeable. Screenwriter KD Dávila
manages to walk a fine line between being too serious and too comedic, crafting an authentic
yet absurd film that will surely be remembered as one of the most insane movies of the year.
The film runs for a total of one-hundred and five minutes, and with every passing scene, things
get increasingly crazier for our lead cast of characters. Just when things look as though they
might finally be okay, something happens to throw our protagonists off course completely,
forcing them to re-analyze. The problem is that the situation that they’re all in is incredibly
dangerous – they aren’t sure what to do with this passed out girl, and it seems as though they
all have drastically different opinions on the matter.
Emergency can oftentimes be gut-bustingly hilarious because of the moments where we watch
our three leads weigh the outcomes, which often ends in huge disagreements or even
sometimes going off into a whole different topic. I will admit, however, that at times the film can
become a little bit old mainly because it’s a nearly two hour movie that solely revolves around
this one storyline.
It almost seems as though it would’ve been a better story had it been told in the form of a
television episode of some sort of comedy sketch show. Even still, though, Dávila’s script is
mostly witty and sharp, and it is seriously impressive to see just how much she was able to write
based on just this one scenario. Screenwriting is hard, obviously, but I feel as though comedy
films would be some of the hardest to write because if you don’t make audiences laugh, you’ve
fundamentally failed mission number one with your film.
Another thing that makes this film so great is the performances all across the board. RJ Cyler,
Donald Elise Watkins, and Sebastian Chacon have some of the best chemistry I’ve seen so far
this year, working wonders off one another in practically every single scene. Also terrific here is
the always amazing Sabrina Carpenter who gets a smaller role than you may think, but it’s still
an important one and Carpenter makes it her own.
Emergency is a highly entertaining movie that succeeds greatly with its comedy, even if it
struggles to find ways to be interesting all the way through.
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