Zoey Deutch. She is the sun, the moon and the stars. If you don't know who I'm talking about, there's a good chance you'll know her face but perhaps not her name. Her career has blossomed over the past eight years with a healthy balance of mainstream and independent cinema, and she's even tried her hand at producing. She is charisma incarnate, and is consistently the best element of her projects. She is just one component of our story today. 'Buffaloed' looks at the crippling debt most Americans have and/or face due to their bizarre and unjust college tuition scheme and inflated medical costs. Now let's go to Buffalo in upstate New York and put these two things together...
Peg (Deutch, 'Everybody Wants Some!!') is poor. She was born poor, she was raised poor, and thanks to a system designed to keep people like her down, she'll probably always be poor. But it's also the one thing she's actively trying not to be. She's got a smart brain in her head, a good head on her shoulders, and a knack for side hustles. Unfortunately, said side hustles aren't always legal, and one such entrepreneurial effort lands her in prison... and with a $50,000 debt to go along with it. So what's a girl from Buffalo to do? Well, thanks to that brain of hers, she turns the tables and becomes a debt collector herself. Thanks to the less than lucrative commissions while her jagoff boss makes bank - as well as the gross misogyny and sexism she experiences in the industry - she decides to go out on her own, thus inciting a war among thieves where it's not about who fired first, but who fires last. Let the battle begin.
'Buffaloed' reaches for lofty heights but never quite gets there. It's fun, slick and fast-paced, but most of its success is thanks to Deutch, while its director Tanya Wexler ('Hysteria') also deserves some applause. There's just no oomph. Peg is a great character; with so much moxie she has you hook, line and sinker from the second she appears on screen screaming "fuck" in slow motion, but beyond that the story and screenplay offer little else besides a collection of fellow intriguing characters. Deutch is joined on screen in talent and exuberance by Judy Greer ('13 Going on 30', 'Halloween'), Noah Reed (TV's 'Schitt's Creek'), Jai Courtney ('Suicide Squad'), Jermaine Fowler ('Sorry to Bother You') and Lusia Strus ('50 First Dates') - all of whom help fill out the films 95 minutes with wit and frivolity, but this is not what great cinema is made of. You need that little somethin' extra.
It's fun, slick and fast-paced, but most of its success is thanks to Deutch.
For those of us who aren't victims to the horrid financial hellscape depicted in 'Buffaloed', there is the occasional broken fourth wall, which seems to be the done thing these days thanks to films like 'The Wolf Of Wall Street' and 'The Big Short' - luckily for us, these breaks are short and punchy yet still left me thinking I need a degree in finance. Even luckier still is that that story is so plucky and manic, so even fiscal dumb-dumbs like me can still get an enjoyable stretch outta this one.
'Buffaloed' is available on iTunes, Google, Xbox, Amazon and other major digital platforms from the 9th September 2020.