I Wrote my First Movie Review While Giving Birth to a Camera. It has followed me ever since. Please don't mind the Mess.
John Patton Ford
Ford Patton John
R...U Going 2 C This Movie?
It’s near the end of the summer and you’ve seen everything you’ve wanted to see so far. Or that other movie you wanted to see is coming soon to VOD because the new pre and post pandemic world has movies streaming to your home faster than you can say something fast.
But if you’re tired of dinosaurs and minions and Thors and whatever else, you might want to stop whatever the f*ck you’re doing because the crime movie Emily the Criminal has deadpan delivery insulting ace Aubrey Plaza…working in the food service industry.
If that’s not enough to make you want to see Emily the Criminal, then maybe this review will help. But you might want to check your pockets after you read this because this review’s been known to take the money out of your wallet and the children out of your freezer.
Emily The Criminal The Trailer!
Emily the Synopsis
Emily the Criminal opens with our titular Emily (Aubrey Plaza- Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates) at a job interview. It doesn’t look like it’s going well. Emily’s been pretty limited in terms of where she can work because she’s got a minor criminal record. Like drunk driving. Aggravated assault. Special effects supervisor for Cats. Stealing Netflix passwords just to watch, ironically enough, Emily in Paris. She’s also killed a couple of people, mostly by accident and definitely some on purpose. She also ruins endings to movies like Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris and told Baz Luhrmann to tack on another half-hour to Elvis.
Anyway, she doesn’t get the job.
Emily needs money. She’s saddled with $70k in student debt and she needs to get rid of an actual saddle because she lives in downtown LA and doesn’t even have a horse. How did she get a saddle? Bradley Cooper gave to her for her bat mitzvah even though she’s not Jewish.
Emily gets another menial job delivering food. It barely makes ends meet. She lives in a small apartment with who we presume are roommates.
A coworker asks her if she’d like to take one of his shifts so he can take his son to a little league game or a strip club or watch oral surgery performed on the elderly. Emily is only too happy to do it. Coworker also gives Emily a number she can text if she’s looking for some “extra money”.
The quotations means it’s something shady but probably lucrative.
Emily texts the number and gets an address. It’s to a theater showing A Love Song so you know it’s going to be empty. There’s a handful of people there already. They all look sketchy like they’re in the adult area of a video store in the 90s but they want to go to the really extreme section where even the regulars behind the swinging beaded doors look at you side-eye. Good thing for Emily nothing this group is interested in involves midgets or mayonnaise, but credit card fraud.
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A man named Youcef (Theo Rossi) lays it out up front. What they will be doing is illegal, but no one will be physically harmed. If they’d like to bail, they should go now but if they go through with it they’ll have $200 for an hour’s worth of work.
The grift involves using stolen credit card numbers and uploading them onto cards. Then using those cards to buy TVs and selling them on the street. If they don’t hit the same place up too many times at once it should be fine.
Emily completes her task and makes the $200. Youcef gives her a burner phone. He’ll text again the next day. If Emily does this again she could get $2000. Sounds too good to be true, but if you can’t trust low level criminals then there’s no point to existence.
Emily answers the text the next day. Em does another job. It goes off without a hitch and Emily gets another $2k and Youcef even gives her another $1k because he’s just so proud of the fine job she’s done.
Not really. Things don’t go exactly as planned and Emily ends up with a bloody nose. But she does get the money. Now she’s started to make a dent in her debt. But jobs Youcef gives her are exponentially more dangerous…and more profitable.
Will Emily stop before she enters into a situation that’s way over her head? See, the title of the movie. It’s not called Emily The Reasonable Law Abiding Citizen.
What Works With Emily the Criminal
- Aubrey Plaza’s best onscreen performance only slightly alters the sardonic delivery you’re used to if all you watch are her comedies. After 2020’s Black Bear, Plaza has shown she’s got more range than you ever expected. In Emily you can almost smell the desperation bubbling under the surface. Even during the more predictable and less plausible parts, Plaza is still a force.
- A scene involving a car and a ticking clock is one of the tensest of 2022, One of those instances where you find yourself yelling at the screen for people to hurry the f*ck up but then realize you’re watching a movie and nothing you say will affect the outcome.
- The Gordy scene. Sorry, that was Nope.
What Doesn’t Work With Emily the Criminal
- You’ve seen these types of movies before and most of the middle act goes exactly where you think it’s going to go. After such a well developed first act, the movie veers into a rhythmic predictably you hope won’t hamper the film for too long. After this middle stretch the movie becomes less rote mostly because you don’t know how far Emily will go to get what she wants.
Emily the Criminal is one of the better crime films of 2022 featuring a career performance by Aubrey Plaza. Even when Emily flags, taking your eyes off Plaza is almost criminal.
© 2022 Noel Penaflor