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Emily The Criminal (2022)

Jake Lipson

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Title: Emily The Criminal (2022)

Tagline: High risks come with even higher rewards.

Genre: Crime Thriller

Director: John Patton Ford

Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Theo Rossi, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Gina Gershon, Jonathan Avigdori, Bernardo Badillo, Craig Stark, Brandon Sklenar

Release: 2022-08-12

Runtime: 93

Plot: Emily, who is saddled with student debt and locked out of the job market due to a minor criminal record, gets involved in a credit card scam that pulls her into the criminal underworld of Los Angeles.
 

Jake Lipson

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I just saw Emily The Criminal.

This is a film that screened at the virtual Sundance earlier this year and is now making its way into theaters. I hadn't seen any marketing for it at all and wouldn't even have known about it if a critic I follow hadn't recommended it. But I thought this was great.

Aubrey Plaza is phenomenal in this role, but it is also very well written and directed by John Patton Ford. After I got home, I looked him up to see what else he had done and was surprised to see that this is his feature-length writing and directing debut. I would not have guessed that this came from a first-time filmmaker. Ford seems to know what he wants and he gets it. The movie is really tight and focused. The brisk running time is used effectively. It lets you get to know Emily and invest in her journey even when she is doing things that live up to the title, and the tension is built expertly all the way through.

I really don't want to say much about the plot because spoilers, but I really enjoyed it. Roadside Attractions is releasing this and they've gone with a limited strategy. It is launching in 473 theaters this weekend, so I don't know if it will be available locally to everyone. But I was really glad I sought it out here and would recommend it if you can find it. I certainly hope it expands in the coming weeks, although we'll have to see what they do with it based on the box office results this weekend. There were about seven people at the screening I attended, including me, and of course it was in one of the smaller auditoriums in the complex. So at least locally it doesn't appear to be drawing a huge crowd, which is usually what happens with no marketing.

But if you can find it and are in the mood for a good thriller, I would highly recommend it.
 

Tommy R

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I’ve seen Plaza in a few things since Parks ended and she’s really great in everything. Never heard of this new one but I’m sure my wife would like to see it too if we can get a babysitter.
 

Jake Lipson

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Never heard of this new one
I don't think you're alone. If there has been a marketing campaign for this, I haven't been aware of it. I've gone to several movies this summer at the theater where I saw this, and yet never saw a trailer or poster at the theater. The first I heard of it was a critic I follow online who mentioned it coming out this weekend and I looked up the trailer myself on YouTube. It seems like Roadside is just kind of dumping it in theaters without much support, which is unfortunate. I'm glad they put it out at all, but if you want people to come see the movie, you've got to make them aware that the movie exists.
 

Jake Lipson

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I just watched the trailer again for the first time since seeing the film. I didn't realize it at the time I looked up the trailer earlier this week, but looking back at it now, WOW it is a VERY spoiler-filled. Just be warned if you watch it.
 

Tommy R

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I just watched the trailer again for the first time since seeing the film. I didn't realize it at the time I looked up the trailer earlier this week, but looking back at it now, WOW it is a VERY spoiler-filled. Just be warned if you watch it.
Thanks for the tip! I haven’t watched the trailer yet but will continue to avoid it for sure!
 

JoeStemme

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I just watched the trailer again for the first time since seeing the film. I didn't realize it at the time I looked up the trailer earlier this week, but looking back at it now, WOW it is a VERY spoiler-filled. Just be warned if you watch it.
Saw the movie today. Just watched the trailer. You aren't wrong - this is a VERY Spoiler-filled preview! Glad I didn't see it before seeing the film.
It's the worst kind of trailer - they show you just about every "action" beat in the whole movie. Worse, they completely misrepresent that it's more a character piece than a crime "thriller".

As to the movie. My review will be posting soon. Liked it, mildly, Plaza and Rossi more so.
 

JoeStemme

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My full review; as promised:

Writer-Director John David Ford's movie tries to answer the question as to why the title character has become a lawbreaker. A once promising young artist, Emily (Aubrey Plaza) is in debt and barely getting by. She's working as a food delivery person and sharing a living space with folks who are plainly not her friends. In the opening job interview scene we find out she has a couple of convictions on her record which makes it hard to find a real job. It also reveals an insight into her mental stability. When a friend gives her a lead to make some “quick money” -- she takes it. As with most things in Emily's life, nothing comes without strings. She finds herself in a credit card scam ring run by a charmer named Youcef (Theo Rossi).Emily finds herself enjoying the easy cash and she soon gets entangled with Youcef on a personal level.

The first act of CRIMINAL is interesting as it shows how a person's desperation can lead to bad choices compounding into even worse ones. Plaza is often shown in very tight closeups allowing her emotive eyes to convey her exasperation. It's a strong performance that goes a long way in smoothing over some of the implausibilities of Ford's screenplay, even if she seems a tad too old for the role.

While Emily's predicament is easy to see, the leap to a life of lawbreaking is poorly framed and much of the middle section coasts along as a typical crime drama. While it's all interesting on one level, it never rises to the next tier -- even as the stakes escalate. The movie's underlying themes of underemployed gig economy twenty and thirty-somethings and the high cost of housing never truly gets addressed, even if the movie depicts the emotional toll fairly well. Those notions become more a plot points than true motivations. Still, Plaza and Rossi are quite good together. You feel their mutual needs. Gina Gershon also has a good scene. It's a timely tale that falls short of being truly special.
 

Jake Lipson

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Aubrey Plaza was on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Wednesday to discuss Emily The Criminal and Spin Me Round.

 

Jake Lipson

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Unfortunately, it looks like Roadside has stopped expanding Emily The Criminal. According to theater counts reported by The Numbers, it is now booked in 273 theaters, which is -270 from the 483 theaters it was in last weekend. So if it hasn't opened near you yet, you might have to wait until it arrives on streaming or disc.


My local theater has cut it down to two shows per day. So even theaters that had it are making it less available than it previously was.

I'm really glad I got to see it, but I think the movie had more potential than its current box office returns would suggest.
 
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JoeStemme

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Unfortunately, it looks like Roadside has stopped expanding Emily The Criminal. According to theater counts reported by The Numbers, it is now booked in 273 theaters, which is -270 from the 483 theaters it was in last weekend. So if it hasn't opened near you yet, you might have to wait until it arrives on streaming or disc.


My local theater has cut it down to two shows per day. So even theaters that had it are making it less available than it previously was.

I'm really glad I got to see it, but I think the movie had more potential than its current box office returns would suggest.
It comes down to audiences. YOU have to show up. If not the theater counts get cut. It's that simple.
Folks are always crying about a dearth of original adult fare - but, they simply don't show up by and large, even when a movie like EMILY has a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. They'd rather go and see generic superhero sequels and even cartoons.
 

Malcolm R

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Yep, folks like to decry the lack of original non-franchise films in theaters, but when those films are released no one goes to support them in any meaningful numbers. Theaters cannot be booking films for which they cannot sell any tickets.

Theatergoers' choice to not support such films in theaters means there will be less of these films in theaters.

Nope, Where the Crawdads Sing, and Elvis have done OK recently, but even their grosses are pretty modest compared to the audiences that show up for sequels and superheroes.
 

Josh Steinberg

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It’s worth pointing out that the barrier to entry for theatergoing is pretty high in ways that us, as avid film fans, can sometimes overlook or rationalize away. We live in an era where technology allows us to view nearly anything in our homes at exactly the moment of our convenience, often for free or at a negligible price.

Going to the theater costs substantially more, requires accommodating the theater’s schedule rather than one’s own, and can be filled with other ancillary costs and obstacles (like cost of transportation, childcare obligations, and/or limited availability of venues showing a particular title).

The worst case scenario for not seeing a film in theaters is that you get to see it at home a few weeks or months later in a more convenient and economical fashion. The worst case scenario for seeing a film in theaters is that you’ve spent a ton of money and inconvenienced yourself in the process for something you didn’t enjoy.

There’s a reason that the most popular films today are the ones that most attendees can make a reasonable supposition that they’ll enjoy it before they’ve seen it. For most people, going to the movies costs too much to waste a trip on something they may not like. It’s the same thing with virtually any form of ticketed entertainment these days, whether that’s Broadway shows or concerts. The known quantities outperform the unknowns in most cases because the barrier to entry is too high to take those chances.

I give great consideration to recommendations from my fellow forum members and I wish I could see everything in theaters that they suggest I do. But it’s simply not possible for me to do so. Like everyone else, I have to figure out some way to prioritize what does get seen right away and what can wait a few extra weeks to see at home.
 

JoeStemme

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It’s worth pointing out that the barrier to entry for theatergoing is pretty high in ways that us, as avid film fans, can sometimes overlook or rationalize away. We live in an era where technology allows us to view nearly anything in our homes at exactly the moment of our convenience, often for free or at a negligible price.

That's always been true. But, and this applies LONG before the pandemic, folks have made the conscious decision to just seem the same old, same old.
You can't complain, if YOU don't support.
Why do you think the major studios basically don't make "grown up movies" any more. AUDIENCES don't go.
 

Josh Steinberg

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As I mentioned in my earlier post, there are lots of reasons why it has become more of a burden for audiences to see new films in theaters compared to other delivery platforms, and some of that is audiences and some of that is just the evolution of both the medium and the delivery system.

There are a lot of complex things intersecting all at once to create the environment we’re in, and while what audiences are and aren’t willing to come out to see in theaters plays a part in that, it’s by no means the only part. The audience willingness in many cases is directly influenced by those other factors, which include but are not limited to, the rising costs of theatrical entertainment which have outpaced inflation and wage growth, the collapsing of the theatrical window resulting in movies appearing at home weeks rather than years after debuting in theaters, and a previously unimaginable explosion of similar content being provided on a variety of platforms, many of which are more easily accessible than a movie theater.

A hundred years ago, the only way to see pre-recorded entertainment was to go to a physical location at a time of someone else’s choosing. Now, that is simply one of many ways to view content. It’s not reasonable to expect the business model to remain the same as it once was when everything about what we watch and how we watch it has evolved since.
 

JoeStemme

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Of course, but, that STILL doesn't explain why a grown adult will choose to go see Hotel Transylvannia 3 instead of a Best Picture nominated film.
Audiences have more and more simplistic tastes. Not to mention that even on streaming, more of these adults are watching cartoons than 'grown up' movies.
One can make all the excuses in the world, but, folks ARE still going to cinemas. They just choose juvenilalia now more than ever. And, it's been like this since at least the 90s
 

Josh Steinberg

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I can’t really agree with that - I find it a bit dismissive of audiences and their situations, while also ignoring the reality that these days, there’s a wonderful variety of adult-oriented material coming out in a variety of platforms that still offer the same caliber of performance and production that we associate with theatrical films. A decade ago, “The Old Man” would have been the latest theatrical film with Jeff Bridges - now it’s a six part limited series. The form has evolved but it hasn’t gone away.

As for why a grown adult would see Hotel Transylvania 3 - well, chances are that grown adult is taking their family to see it, whereas the last best picture winner might have been a prestige film that wasn’t appropriate for the whole family and didn’t seem that appealing to the adult.

By turn of fate or weird life coincides or whatever have you, I’m now back to living in the same area I grew up in, attending the same multiplex I went to as a kid. Ticket prices are roughly four times now what they were then. I can promise you that salaries in this area haven’t increased by four times in that same span. It costs more now to see a movie than it did then. And unlike back then, there are now a plethora of high quality options for me to view at home.

If you’re comfortable saying that’s because audiences have grown juvenile, well, that’s your opinion and you’re welcome to it. But, speaking for myself, I am not comfortable with being so condescending to audiences and their choices. I am also not comfortable with writing things off that don’t appeal to me personally as being juvenile.
 

JoeStemme

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As for why a grown adult would see Hotel Transylvania 3 - well, chances are that grown adult is taking their family to see it, whereas the last best picture winner might have been a prestige film that wasn’t appropriate for the whole family and didn’t seem that appealing to the adult.
A. There are 10pm shows of cartoons these days. The "family" argument doesn't wash.
B. Even on streaming, it's genre stuff that tends to be the most watched.
C. As I wrote, this is a LONG trend, even before so called "peak TV"
 
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