A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Focuses primarily on how late-stage capitalism should be adjusted (or abolished) in order to give everyone a chance to succeed on their own terms. But this commentary is made somewhat subtly, even though it's about someone who can't find a sustaining job because of bureaucracy and prejudice against formerly incarcerated people in the workforce.
Positive Role Models
Emily uses violence to address her emotional issues with men, particularly when she's in a triggering, vulnerable situation. And even though her motives might be understandable, she chooses to do illegal things to make money. But she also shows perseverance, courage, and tenacity in achieving her goals and protecting herself in vulnerable, abusive situations.
Cast is diverse on surface: Aubrey Plaza is a multicultural actress with Puerto Rican and Taino ancestry; Jonathan Avigdori is American and Israeli; Theo Rossi has Italian, Spanish, Syrian, and North African ancestry; Bernardo Badillo has Mexican ancestry. But while some actors (including Rossi and Avigdori) are playing characters who sound Middle Eastern, their characters aren't specifically defined by country or background. This makes them seem like generalized Middle Eastern characters with generalized accents, potentially reinforcing stereotypes. And while Emily is the lead, she's surrounded by men. This could be commentary on the U.S. workforce culture, but it seems more like a possible oversight in gender parity. One of the two other female characters, a nasty boss (Gina Gershon), is portrayed as part of the problem; the other, Emily's friend Liz (Megalyn Echikunwoke), seems emblematic of the cliché of a friend who has seemingly "made it" in life and serves as an aspiration for Emily. Emily is made to be a love interest when it feels like that angle isn't necessary to flesh out her story.
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Violence & Scariness
Fights, men targeting and attacking/hurting women, breaking and entering, stabbing, etc. A bit of blood from injuries. General mood of tension/danger. Emily has a criminal record of domestic violence.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing. A scene that shows two characters after they've had sex (partial nudity).
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Language includes "f--k," "f---ing," "hell," "damn," etc.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drinking by adult characters, sometimes to falling-down excess. Montage of a boisterous night out at a bar includes drug (cocaine) use.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Emily the Criminal is a tense drama/thriller about a woman (Aubrey Plaza) who's trying to get ahead despite feeling like the deck of capitalism is stacked against her. Her dire financial circumstances lead to her joining an illegal credit card scheme to make more money. There's a general sense of risk and danger throughout the film, as well as moments of shocking physical violence. People fight, men target and attack women, there are scenes of breaking and entering, and people get bloody injuries. Characters also kiss, have (nonexplicit) sex, drink (sometimes to falling-down excess), and use drugs (cocaine). Language is strong and includes "f--k," "damn," and more. 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 tense drama/thriller takes on an issue facing many millennials and Gen Z'ers: trying to make it big in a capitalist society that feels made for the rich and/or those with endless connections. Like many people in Emily the Criminal's target audience, Emily is faced with student debt, a culture that tells her to constantly try harder (without giving her actual help or chances), and a society that judges people with criminal records and sees them as disposable and worthless. You can see how she'd get desperate enough to throw her lot in with Youcef's scam.
While that aspect of the film is gripping, Emily the Criminal doesn't manage to capture all of the viewer's attention. That's largely because a romantic subplot feels forced into a story that had a much stronger focus when it was commenting on late-stage capitalism. Also distracting is Youcef, the mastermind behind the credit card scheme (and Emily's love interest). He presents as Middle Eastern, but it feels like the character isn't fully explored because Rossi's accent isn't authentic, and he doesn't feel fully rooted in the character. Still, he brings a bit of sparkle to the proceedings. But Plaza is the film's true heart and force. It just would have been nice if the film had focused less on Emily's love life and more on her already fascinating (and relatable) fight to be taken seriously in the workforce.
Did we miss something on diversity?
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.