What to do in a situation like this.
History has a way of repeating itself, regarding all the negative racism going on. Innocent black people getting shot by white cops or white criminals is a horrific example. Others would be the stereotypes they either succumb to or be insulted by in the media. I’m a white film critic, who doesn’t judge people by their race, but rather their actions and how they treat me and other people.
There are two black guys and one Mexican as the main characters of the comedy-drama-thriller “Emergency,” and they should have a guy like me in their friendship, although one of them is so stressed by the racial world they live in, that he probably wouldn’t think so.
But let me explain who these main characters are, and why they act the way they do.
Kunla (Donald Elise Watkins) and Sean (RJ Cyler) are the two black guys, and Carlos (Sebastian Chacon) is the Mexican, all of whom are college roommates. Kunla is more studious than the vapor-smoking Sean, which is why he got accepted into Princeton next year, and Carlos wears the fanny pack with the granola bars.
Kunla and Sean are about to hit a number of big parties, but a drunk girl named Emma (Maddie Nichols) ends up inside. She’s vomiting, she looks and feels like she’s been roofied. Kunla suggests they call 911, but Sean thinks otherwise considering that she’s white, and who knows what will happen to them if she dies. He thinks all cops are white racists, and they’re poised to shoot them. So, I guess their only recourse is to drive her to the hospital.
It sounds like “Superbad” and “Booksmart” cutting back on the murder and gore of “Very Bad Things,” but it’s actually a full-length version of the short film, both of which were made by director Carey Williams and screenwriter KD Davila. It has a strong attitude, sincere emotions, and some wise comedy, as it tries to assume what to do in a situation like this. It’s about thinking you’re taking the easy way out, when you’re actually making it harder. It’s stressful, but this is what it’s about.
Emma has an older sister named Maddie (Sabrina Carpenter), who loses her at the party, and with the “Find My Friends” app, she, her friend (Madison Thompson), and her date (Diego Abraham) all track Emma down. They nearly think the boys kidnapped her, and that’s when explanations really need to be made. And they better be made soon.
“Emergency” nows when to be poetic, when to be satirical, when to be threatening, and when to be emotional. It’s impossible for me to imagine being in the shoes of a racial person who’s afraid of discrimination and wrongful deaths. It’s impossible for me to imagine their fears and emotions within. But I am kind enough to shed my tears for them. The scene during the last 20 minutes is no exception.
The performances are the leads are excellent in ways you need to see to believe. Watkins has the sincerity and sense of bring out his character’s concerns and good judgement; Cyler gives a career-best performance when he eases into the tension and struggles to overcome what the world has brought down; Chacon is also whimsical when he adapts to the film’s timing; and Carpenter uses her stress and anger wisely.
This movie is daring and original, while never trying to take the easy way out in the script. It cares about these boys, and so do we. They’re filled with unlimited potential. In fact, “Emergency” does care only for the stressful situation; it cares about the lives and directions they’re heading in-school wise that is. It’s a side dish that’s equally delicious as the main plot. Kudos to both Williams and Davila for presenting the movie in a timely fashion with choices, laughs, and tears.
In Select Theaters and Streaming on Amazon Prime