'EMERGENCY': ENDEARING YET UPLIFTING CONTEMPORARY CAMPUS CAPER
"Emergency" will take you on a critical thinking journey while making you laugh.
"Emergency" is a comedy film about three college friends navigating a cascade of bad decisions and traffic in various established lanes. It's also a social-aware commentary rooted in the threat of anti-Black racism in America.
The film, adapted from a short story by Carey Williams and KD Davila, revolves around two best friends, Kunle (Donald Elise Watkins) and Sean (RJ Cyler), who are determined to become the first African-American students to attend Buchanan College. Kunle is a straight-A student focused on biology, while Sean is the laid-back stoner who doesn't have a future plan.
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Misunderstanding and racial sinkholes
Davila has a keen ear for the hypocrisy of liberal arts colleges. In the opening minutes, a white professor teaching "blasphemy and taboos" in Kunle and Sean's class repeats the N-word to the students, who are mostly white. After class, a white classmate says they should take up their cause at the student council.
In Emergency, it avoids turning into a preachy campus movie. Instead, it stays true to its core, friendship, built on a deep sense of mutual respect.
After returning home from a pre-game party, the two men find a white girl (Maddie Nichols) passed out in their living room. Kunle suggests they call 911, but Sean refuses since they have two Black guys and one stoner Mexican-American, Carlos (Sebastian Chacon), as their roommate — meaning the odds of being trusted by the authority are slim.
The movie's depiction of the police's fearmongering is also a metaphor for misjudging real-life situations. Every time the trio tries to avoid getting caught by the cops through various means, they are more likely to be apprehended by the police.
The trio makes numerous errors throughout the film, leading to disastrous decisions. It's also a comedy of errors that never escapes awareness.
It would have been easy to turn Emergency into a traumatic-drama movie, but it sticks to its guns and doesn't allow itself to get too sensationalized. Like "Get Out" (2017), it avoids sensationalizing the situation and focusing on the possibility of a tragedy.
The film's climax is a slow-motion depiction of Kunle's gut-punching humiliation, shock, fear, and disappointment. Watkins does a good job of conveying the devastating effects of his disillusionment through the screenplay.
The film's somber tone makes it a perfect companion piece to the uplifting message of its protagonist, who is carrying the weight of his own biases but still maintains a sense of humor. The two leads, Sean and Kunle, are also incredibly consistent throughout the ups and downs.
"Emergency" will be released on Amazon Prime later this year.
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