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Emergency was one of the best films to come out of the Sundance Film Festival. Kunle (Donald Elise Watkins) and Sean (RJ Cyler) are ready to become the first Black students to complete the legendary tour. This requires careful planning and a lot of drinking. Before the night can begin, the two find an unconscious white girl in their house. They know the optics are bad and along with their Latino friend Carlos (Sebastian Chacon), the three must figure out what their next move is.
Writer K.D. Davilla and director Carey Williams have managed to put together a film that accomplishes something that is incredibly difficult. They are able to touch on one of the most pressing problems in the country while still enabling audiences to laugh. While doing so, they never demean the issue at hand or make anyone feel guilty for finding humor in the situations found in Emergency.
The movie works by never forgetting what it is about. It does a great job of being just another college movie. Kunle is the dedicated student who is on his way to Princeton. Meanwhile, his best friend Sean just goes about doing his thing seemingly without a care in the world. This annoys Kunle and predictably leads to some tension between the two. Carlos brings a fun dynamic and there are the oddball characters expected in this type of film.
Everyone has great chemistry in Emergency. This helps make it more than just another fun college party movie. Since the three friends are able to play off each other so well, it draws the audience deeper into the hijinx. It is a chaotic night involving mistaken identities, wild goose chases, and heated arguments. The comedy does not necessarily break new ground and still manages to provide laugh out loud moments.
Everything is not all fun and games, however. There are a lot of moving parts in the movie – friendship and self-confidence are running themes – but the driving force behind Emergency is about race relations. What would have been treated as a ridiculous sitcom episode a few years ago, is a sad commentary on the state of America. This is touched on throughout the entire movie and culminates in an ending that is both satisfying and depressing.
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