by Brandon Thomas
Phone solicitors are a menace. Political campaigns? Blech. Offers to buy your home “as is” for cash? Get out of here. Timeshare schemes? Block that number.
Oh, and debt collectors? The absolute worst.
What’s that? Debt collectors are the heroes in Buffaloed? Tell me more.
From an early age, Peg Dahl (Zoey Deutch) had money on her mind. After a bad ticket scalping endeavor lands her in the joint, Peg racks up some massive legal fees. With career opportunities slim and her optimism fading, Peg discovers the lucrative world of debt collection. Accompanied by a flimsy moral code and a ragtag group of associates, she sets out to eliminate her debt and make a small fortune along the way.
Within its first few frames, Buffaloed announces that it’s not about to be your standard rags-to-riches tale. There’s a sense of whimsy apparent as director Tanya Wexler (Hysteria) introduces us to this heightened version of Buffalo, New York. Whimsy with an edge, that is.
Buffaloed threatens many times to veer into the familiar. A down-on-their- luck group trying to defy the odds? Yeah, we’ve seen that before!
Not so fast.
A clever script by Brian Sacca doesn’t let these characters off the hook easily. They make mistakes, learn from them, then make even worse ones. The nimbleness of Buffaloed’s kinetic story is one of its greatest assets. Peg is always zigging when she should be zagging.
Deutch has been building a solid resume over the last few years. Her recent turn in Zombieland: Doubletap stole the show from long working veterans like Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, and Emma Stone. There’s a crackling energy to her performance as Peg that’s a perfect fit for the character’s chaotic actions.
Equally good is Jai Courtney (Suicide Squad, Terminator Genysis) as Peg’s sleazy and dangerous competitor. Courtney has become an online punching bag over the years for appearing in bad sequels and/or comic book movies. Here, he’s allowed to flex some pretty incredible comedic muscles that don’t involve him interacting with a green screen.
With an offbeat story, and memorably eccentric cast of characters, Buffaloed charms and impresses with the miraculous feat of making debt collectors sympathetic.