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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Mixed in with a lot of irresponsible behavior is a theme related to communication and idea of withholding difficult information to spare someone's feelings. Also deals with racial identity and impact and consequences of racism.
Positive Role Models
Kunle is an exceptional student who's worked hard to get into Princeton and is in some ways a positive model. But the movie also shows his flaws -- e.g., that he tries too hard to please his parents, that his social skills are a bit awkward, that he's too quick to agree to suggestions by his less-than-responsible friend Sean.
Characters with the most screen time include sympathetic women, Black men, and Latino men. They're portrayed with multiple dimensions -- i.e., viewers see both their positive, kind, and helpful sides and their flaws and sometimes irresponsible behavior. The director is Black, and the screenwriter is Mexican American.
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Violence & Scariness
Police threaten main characters. Bloody cut on person's face. Character has a terrified panic attack in the car. Someone attacks the main characters with a stick and pepper spray. Main characters are chased by angry partygoers, who throw things at their car. Arguing.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Strong sex-related dialogue.
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Constant explicit language includes uses of "f--k," "f---ing," "motherf----r," the "N" word, "s--t," "bulls--t," "p---y," "goddamn," "a--hole," "bitch," "ass," "dumbass," "damn," "d--k," "d--kless," "pissing," "butt," "nuts," "wiener," and "stupid."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
High school-age character gets drunk to the point of needing medical help. Main character vapes throughout the movie. Many secondary and background characters are seen drunk, drinking, and/or smoking pot. Drug purchase shown. One party is pot-themed.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Emergency is a funny, poignant dramedy about race and identity that centers on three college seniors, all people of color, whose night of partying is interrupted when a drunk, unconscious White girl appears in their apartment. Language is the biggest issue, with constant use of words including "f--k," "s--t," "motherf----r," the "N" word, and more, as well as fairly graphic sex-related dialogue. There's also lots of alcohol use, pot smoking, and partying among college-age characters, many of whom appear drunk -- as does one teen, who drinks so much that she requires medical help. A main character vapes throughout. The main characters are threatened by the police, as well as by angry partygoers, who throw things at their car. A character gets a bloody cut on the nose, someone has a panic attack, and characters are attacked with a stick and pepper spray. There's also arguing, vomiting, and urinating. Underneath all of it are themes about communication and the impact and consequences of racism. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This funny, touching dramedy begins confidently with some big laughs before veering cannily into a commentary on race and identity while still maintaining balance. Emergency, which feels cut from the Superbad cloth, starts well with the off-kilter relationship between Kunle and Sean: They may seem like a mismatch, but their strong chemistry comes through. They thrive in each other's company, and their differences create a hilarious friction that keeps them both on their toes. Carlos -- he's the McLovin of this movie -- adds another level. He's a ridiculous goofball, someone the guys don't want around for fear he'll make them look bad, but his heart is in the right place, and he becomes a necessary cog in this machine.
As the movie goes on, it becomes clearer and clearer that the source of the conflict centers on race. If the friends had felt able to call the police, they might have been able to go to their parties as planned, but the fear of their own arrests -- or worse -- is too high. It's all about perception: Every situation they get into, no matter how well-intentioned or ill-conceived, ends up looking bad from a racist point of view. What's more, Emergency -- which was adapted by writer K.D. Dávila and director Carey Williams from their 2018 short film -- adds extra levels of commentary, as in the scenes involving a White couple who threaten to call the police on the hapless main characters ... just before the "Black Lives Matter" sign on their lawn is revealed. Ultimately, this movie makes you care -- and rewards you for it.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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