Tribeca 2019 Review: ‘Buffaloed’

 

Buffaloed | Tanya Wexler | Tribeca 2019

Growing up in Buffalo as a kid, Peg (Zoey Deutch) had one goal on her mind: to make enough money to get the hell out of there. She didn’t want to end up stuck living the life of her mom Kathy (Judy Greer), who struggled to make ends meet for Peg and her brother JJ (Noah Reid) after the death of their father.

Peg doesn’t share the same affinity for Buffalo as everyone else in the town (she even hates Buffalo wings!), so she becomes motivated at a young age to scheme and connive in order to escape from her hometown through an expensive Ivy League education. She starts to make some good cash by selling counterfeit Buffalo Bills tickets, which soon lands her in jail and, upon release, she’s hounded by debt collectors.

Initially annoyed, the quick-thinking Peg finds herself a job with the sketchy debt collecting operation headed by the sleazy Wizz (Jai Courtney). She excels at the job right from the getgo, but Wizz and the rest of the employees don’t take her seriously.

She isn’t one to quit, so she starts a firm of her own, which catches Wizz’s ire, as well as the attention of Graham (Jermaine Fowler), the same lawyer who jailed her. That attention also comes with a budding romance, but that’s as long as she keeps her operation legit. But Peg will do whatever it takes to help out her family, as well as to stick it to Wizz.

Directed by Tanya Wexler from a script from actor Brian Sacca, Buffaloed is a wacky comedy that fully embraces its Buffalo setting, as well as taking cues from films such as The Wolf Of Wall Street and The Big Short, with its less than legal enterprising and simplification into the world of debt collecting.

While aspects of it feel a bit too broad and scattershot, there’s plenty of cleverness and whacky hijinx to be found in Sacca’s script and brought to life in absurdist fashion by Wexler. But Buffaloed rests firmly on the shoulders of Deutch who gives a career-best performance, playing a firecracker of a personality that is close to coming off the rails, but one that she also gives plenty of personality and depth that makes it all work. The same goes for Judy Greer, one of the most underutilized actresses in Hollywood, who absolutely shines in the role.

While sometimes Buffaloed gets a bit too wild and crazy and teeters on the line of believability, it has enough working for it as a broad comedy, thanks to Deutch’s commanding performance, which makes a case for plenty more big-time leading roles, especially in the world of comedy.

Rating: 7.0/10

Buffaloed premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and is awaiting acquisition and distribution.