Film Review: Buffaloed is a vehicle for Zoey Deutch’s star quality and infectious enthusiasm

Zoey Deutch is a star, and as her infectious enthusiasm and penchant for live-wire-fuelled comedy proves in Buffaloed, the world is simply waiting to catch up to her.  In the same manner as someone like Anna Kendrick, Deutch does so much with so little, going-for-broke with a fearlessness that often elevates both the material she’s working with and the ensemble around her.

As Peg, she manages to inject a likability into her particularly driven and ruthless character – a money-driven 20-something who long has a history of get rich quick schemes to her name, a personality trait that has earned her a jail record.  Whilst her tested mother (Judy Greer) makes ends meet by illegally cutting hair in her own home, Peg seeks out the next venture to earn coin, leading her to the world of debt collecting.

Motivated by the pain and stress she witnesses first hand due to debt collectors constantly harassing her mother, Peg opts to infiltrate the industry, attempting to form a makeshift crew of sorts of equally questionably-backgrounded folk who all thrive on making money in their own inventive way.  This bold strategy earns her a target on her back from debt collector king Wizz (Jai Courtney, hilariously flexing his comedic muscle), who she initially works under before going out on her own as his biggest competitor.

As her schemes start to pay off and she taps into her obvious intellect, Peg’s monetary woes seem sorted as the figures become larger and larger, so large that her attraction to her profession’s lucrative nature blurs her common sense.  With her mother and kindly-natured brother (Schitt’s Creek‘s Noah Reid) unable to break through to her, it falls to lawyer Graham (Jermaine Fowler), who is smitten with her boisterous nature, to convince her to see the light.  Easier said than done, right?

Whilst Brian Sacca‘s script and Tanya Wexler‘s direction prove satisfactory, it’s immediately obvious that much of Buffaloed‘s success rests on the shoulders of Deutch.  Her energy very much dictates the flow of the narrative and our positive reactive response accordingly; the story ultimately comes second to Deutch and the bouncy nature of her chemistry with the ensemble, particularly Courtney, who should no doubt silence his detractors who have often attacked his predominant work in the action genre.

With the film placing such a heavy focus on Peg – which only highlights Deutch’s charisma even more – it unfortunately pushes the majority of support characters to the background, making it difficult for us to care much about them when their own issues arise.  The performers on hand do their best – it’s difficult for someone like Judy Greer to go unnoticed – but the heavy lifting is Deutch’s responsibility, and though she does it effortlessly, you can’t help but wonder what could’ve been had the work been a little more evenly distributed.

THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Buffaloed will be available through Google Play, iTunes, Xbox, Amazon Prime Video and other major digital platforms from September 9th 2020.

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.

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