Greetings again from the darkness. Aubrey Plaza proved during “Parks and Recreation”, and most every role since, that she is nearly unmatched in her ability to deliver blistering one-liners. However, over the last few years, she has expanded her repertoire and has become a fascinating, multi-talented actress who is exciting to watch. The feature film debut of writer-director John Patton Ford provides the opportunity for Ms. Plaza to push her dramatic chops into the world of crime. She not only doesn’t disappoint, she excels.
Emily (Ms. Plaza) is a struggling gig worker delivering lunch orders to office buildings. She has $70,000 in student loan debt and an assault conviction on her record that blocks her from any “good” jobs. We see how that past haunts her in an interview, and it’s also our first peek at her natural instinct to bow up and fight back in any situation she views as unjust. Emily is a Jersey girl living in L.A. with a bucket list that seems like a distant dream. One day a co-worker hooks her up with an opportunity to make $200 in one hour. Of course, the opportunity turns out to require her to do something illegal, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
The ‘training’ class is run by Youcef (Theo Rossi, “Sons of Anarchy”), a man with a gentle approach that disarms most attendees. Emily gets up to leave, but an exchange with Youcef (and a need for money) convinces her to stay and partake of the ridiculously easy money to be made from credit card fraud. The ‘dummy shopper’ approach can only go so far, and Youcef mentors Emily to take more risk for more reward. Additionally, their relationship escalates causing consternation from Youcef’s brother Khalil (Jonathan Avigdori), who points out that Emily is not the best at following rules, which puts her and the entire operation in jeopardy.
Liz (Megalyn Echikunwoke), Emily’s friend from art school, finagles an interview for her at the big-time marketing firm where she works. Gena Gershon has one scene as the hiring manager, and Emily proves yet again that her interview skills are a bit lacking. Only this time she’s chin deep in running crime with Youcef. One thing that is glossed over here, is that Emily surely has an advantage being an attractive white woman, while most of the others are people of color – automatically causing alert. Ms. Plaza and Mr. Rossi play off each other very well, but this is clearly her time to shine in a crime thriller. Although the story is actually very simple, and I’m not a fan of the ending, it’s certainly fun to watch Aubrey Plaza spread her wings as an actor.
Opening in theaters on August 12, 2022