‘Emergency’ Review: A Humorous Amalgam of Youthful Inexperience and Real-Life Fear

Coming across as a new-age college film, Emergency is a comical, somewhat triggering, take on college spring break. Directed by Carey Williams, the film takes a shot at balancing life lessons with a not-so satirical story.

From an educational standpoint, the film boasts a unique, youthful take on educating the masses on the importance of communication, friendship, and how we can learn from each other’s differences. Kunle’s (Donald Elise Watkins) acceptance into Princeton hinged on the success of his science experiment while Sean (RJ Cyler) lived his life by the moment. They couldn’t have been more different, but their differences mattered down the line. Because of Kunle’s background and book smarts, he often came across as preachy when he spoke to Sean about school. What Sean often took as a “lecture” was Kunle trying to push him harder because he saw so much potential in him. Little differences like these can make or break a friendship and it’s hard to communicate such things when you’re young, but the film did an excellent job highlighting that discomfort while showing a comfortable solution.

EMERGENCY

While Sean wasn’t the most serious student, he did have a more practical take on reality and being black in America. When the two best friends returned to their house before attempting to party the night away, they found a girl passed out on the floor. They immediately went to interview their roommate Carlos (Sebastian Chacon) to find out what happened, but to their chagrin, he was playing video games with his headphones on (to an older generation, this might seem a bit far-fetched, but with eSports, streaming, and the obsession with the internet, this type of thing could definitely happen in 2022).

Kunle’s immediate reaction was to call the police. Sean vehemently disagreed and had to give his best friend a reality check. That reality check was one that every child of color needs to understand in their lifetime: everything will always lean in favor of white people. So what seemed innocent on the surface (calling for help because someone’s in trouble) had to be met with extreme caution (how it would look with a passed-out white girl on a floor with three brown men standing over her).

Dealing with racism and police brutality is something so simple that it’s been made to seem difficult. It really isn’t. One of the best jabs at white hypocrisy in the film was when the guys were attempting to help this random girl and were approached by a white family and threatened. After the guys left, the white family walked back to their house which had a Black Lives Matter sign out front. While Kunle was an African student unfamiliar with the ways of American racism, Sean was aggressively trying to teach him. It’s one thing to think positive about a certain social outcome but, ignoring almost 200 years of police brutality and racism is totally different.

EMERGENCY

On the other side of the coin, Maddie (Sabrina Carpenter) thought it was a good idea to bring her high school-aged sister Emma (Maddie Nichols) to a frat party. After noticing her absence, she quickly notifies her friend Alice (Madison Thompson) so they can find her. Already drunk, Maddie makes a mess of things while making hasty decisions in the process. If it wasn’t for the help of Alice and her friend Rafael (Diego Abraham), Maddie definitely would’ve made things worse in her drunken stupor.

While there’s a laundry list of life lessons compacted into 105 minutes, I need to issue a larger-than-life #trigger warning for this film. Anyone who’s been affected by police brutality, racism, white terrorism, or gets nauseous at the sight of privilege, may need to avoid this film. There are some pretty sobering takes at existing in white spaces that, for some, might be too heavy to call themselves “enjoying” a film.

I give Emergency an 8 out of 10. The film is special to Atlanta as it stars local actress Maddison Thompson. Emergency will release today at The Plaza Theater and on May 27 on Amazon Prime Video. It’s a film bold enough to teach a few things while squeezing out a few laughs when possible.

-Jon Jones

Photos: Quantrell Colbert

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