This comedy is as brash, obnoxious, and in your face as its main character, Peg: a scam artist who's desperate to pull herself out of poverty. Peg is always trying to pay off her debt, whether it's her family's bills, college tuition, or her debt to society. She's whip-smart but impulsive, and she bulldozes ahead with ignorant certainty rather than deep consideration of what the consequences of her actions might be, willing to operate in the margins of legality. And yet, there are reminders throughout the film that Peg is trying to thrive in a sexist world. Is Peg destined to fail because she's a woman, because she's careless, or because she lacks integrity?
The film's title is as unsubtle as Peg and her nemesis, Wiz (Jai Courtney, wearing a constant snarl). It piles up and cycles all the definitions and stereotypes of "buffalo" -- the bison-like animal, the act of intimidating through power, and, of course, the city that Peg wants to escape (and that, per the movie, apparently has nothing more to offer than Buffalo Wings and the Buffalo Bills). The characters are largely unlikeable. Debt lord Wiz feels like every superhero's "first" villain: big and cartoonishly dumb, to be clocked and countered within seconds before moving on to the bigger threat. Perhaps that's why Peg underestimates Wiz -- but, then, that's the point. Buffaloed isn't a Hollywood story; it's an Upstate New York story. There's so much frustrating injustice here because, often, people like Wiz have the experience to know the loopholes of the law. But while the characters in Buffaloed can be annoying, there's a lot to digest here. Peg's lifelong ambition is to "stop being poor and start being rich," but the cards are stacked against those who exist in a cycle of poverty, where it can seem like the only way to break out is to break the law. The film has a satisfying conclusion, but the ending doesn't provide a call to action or even an intent to cause outrage, rather, a slumped-shoulders sigh as it points to how the odds are stacked against the regular person who, so often, is just trying to get by and do the right thing.