EMILY THE CRIMINAL – Review by Susan Wlsozczyna

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A ballsy Aubrey Plaza plays it cool in the title role of first-time feature director and writer John Patton Ford’s Emily the Criminal. Like many a millennial, she finds herself choked with a load of student debt while sharing an apartment with not-so-friendly roommates. Not helping matters is a minor criminal infraction from her past that makes her undesirable as an employee. She delivers food orders for an L.A. restaurant, but it barely allows her to pay off her bills and pay down her debt that adds up to $70, 000 to be exact. Exacerbating her angst is that she never even earned a degree.

But when Emily switches a shift with another employee, she is paid $200 to deliver an electronic device. Soon she finds herself cashing in as a “dummy shopper,” while buying high ticket items with stolen credit cards after being recruited by a charismatic middleman Yousef (Theo Rossi). Emily soon starts raking in the dough, but matters grow dicey when she tussles with a bad guy who bloodies her nose. She decides it’s probably wise to carry a Taser and it doesn’t take long for her to use it. Meanwhile, she and Yousef strike up a romance that ends badly.

There’s at least one doozy of a car chase in the mode of Steve McQueen’s Bullitt. But the scene that takes the cake is the one where Emily’s friend sets up a ‘legit’ job interview for her with her boss — the always welcomed Gina Gershon who pops up as a haughty ad exec. She is prepared to give her a six-month unpaid internship with the promise of looking at a full-time position at the end of it. Right then and there, not paying interns seems to be a crime in and of itself. Emily’s reaction will likely get twentysomethings in audiences to punch their fists in the air!

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Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a contributor for the online awards site Gold Derby and is an Oscar expert for RogerEbert.com. Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to RogerEbert.com, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.