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Laramie Movie Scope: Emergency

A stoner comedy with a serious message

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 9, 2023 – This stoner comedy has similar elements to a movie like “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle,” but it also has a serious side about the realities of racism in America, and those two elements fit together surprisingly well.

Three college roommates, Sean (played by RJ Cyler of “The Harder They Fall”) Kunle (played by Donald Elise Watkins of “Black Box”) and Carlos (Sebastian Chacon of “Angelfish”) are getting ready for graduation parties when they find Emma (Maddie Nichols of “Vendetta”) a drunk, underaged white girl, unknown to any of them, has passed out on the floor of their living room.

If the roommates were all white, the answer would be easy, just call 911 and let the police handle the problem, but Sean and Kunle are black and Carlos is Hispanic. They could all be in serious trouble if they called the police, so they struggle to come up with a solution to the problem. Emma is in bad shape and clearly needs help.

They finally decide to take the girl to a hospital a few miles away, but when they pass by a huge fraternity party, an opportunity presents itself to drop Emma off at the party without drawing attention to themselves. This plan falls apart and they and their car are attacked by drunk partygoers. The attackers knock out a tail light on their car.

The broken tail light presents a new problem. The police, looking for any excuse to pull them over, might put them in harm's way. One thing leads to another and Carlos, Sean and Kunle are all attacked. A series of misunderstandings lead to a truly dangerous situation for all of them. Emma's sister, Maddy (Sabrina Carpenter of “The Short History of the Long Road”) and her friends, track them down and further complicate the situation.

This all leads to a confrontation between Kunle and Sean. Kunle is an honor student who has been accepted into Princeton, while Sean's academic achievements and goals are less lofty. Kunle has led a more sheltered life, while Sean has more experience with racism in dealing with situations like this.

Kunle wanted to call 911 from the beginning, while Sean and Carlos resisted this idea, probably based on their own past experience. The tension of the situation causes all the differences between them to come to the surface. Carlos also finds out during the course of the night that he was the odd man out, and had not been invited to go on an elaborate tour of college parties his roommates had planned for that night.

Writer K.D. Dávila and director Carey Williams developed this Amazon Studios feature length film based on their (2018) short film of the same name, which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. The writing, acting, and production values are all solid. The story, while encompassing the basic elements of a stoner comedy, also has real dramatic power. This film rates a B+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2023 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]