I’ve been hesitant to write anything about Emergency because I wish everyone could see the film as I did, knowing absolutely nothing about it ahead of time. Given that it won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival that may be tough to do… but believe me, the less you know about it the more you will enjoy and appreciate it.

Amazon Prime has cut an excellent trailer that manages to tease the film without completely tipping its hand—no small feat considering that it starts out as one kind of movie and winds up being something else entirely.

A cast of mostly unknowns responds perfectly to K.D. Dávila’s savvy screenplay and Cary Williams’s straightforward direction. A film as clever as this could show off its smarts but Williams trusts the script (and the intelligence of his audience) and doesn’t feel the need to stress what is already recognizable. RJ Cyler, Donald Elise Watkins, and Sebastian Chacon truly shine, and I know I won’t be the only one looking forward to seeing more from these young actors. 

Whether you see it as a genre-bending comedy, a so-painful-it-hurts social satire, or an unclassifiable commentary on contemporary life, Emergency demands your attention. When recommending it to your friends, you can decide how much you wish to spoil ahead of time.

The film opens in theatres today and will be available on Amazon Prime May 27th.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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May 2024