Sunday, September 6, 2020

Movie with Abe: First One In

First One In
Directed by Gina O’Brien
Released September 8, 2020 (VOD)

In today’s vastly interconnected society, it’s easy for one social media faux pas to go viral and completely ruin someone’s life. Usually, a misstep or error in judgment is rather sizeable in nature, leaving little to interpretation or at least not much that anyone who has seen damning footage wants to hear. Some are able to use notoriety to their advantage to achieve a new degree of fame, while others shy away from the limelight and retreat from public spaces to avoid harassment. Building a new reputation may be possible, but it’s unlikely that past actions can ever be truly forgotten.

Madi Cooke (Kat Foster) is a contestant on a reality show and finds herself dismissed after accidentally killing an endangered animal on camera. Shunned by protesters outside her home and fired from her job, Madi puts on a disguise and adopts a new last name to interview with a wildly popular real estate kingpin, Bobbi Mason (Georgia King). Bobbi’s determination to continue winning her local tennis tournament prompts Madi to train vigorously to become the best player and most ideal candidate for the job, meeting pro Fernando (Josh Segarra) and teammates Jane (Catherine Curtin), Ceecee (Emy Coligado), Preeti (Aneesh Sheth), and Valentina (Karina Arroyave), along with her former best friend Ollie (Alana O’Brien), who is well aware of the person she really is and is trying to hide from her new circle.

Much of this film’s premise is exaggerated, though real-life celebrities have been called out for less significant transgressions. Madi’s disguise is a small step up from Clark Kent taking off his glasses so that no one will recognize him as Superman, but that’s not where this film’s heart lies. Instead, it follows a woman trying to remain afloat who immerses herself in something new, which in turn gives her a supportive community and an outlet for her to attempt to make peace with an embattled world that wants her to remain eternally unforgiven.

Foster is best known for roles in TV shows like “Til Death” and “Weeds” and does a decent job as a moderately enthusiastic lead here. King, a standout player from “Eastbound and Down,” is the best reason to see this film, leaning into the excessive zaniness of her role. “Orange is the New Black” stars Curtin and Arroyave are standouts in the supporting cast, which functions well enough. This film is ultimately light entertainment more than anything enduring, aware of what it is and sufficiently able to embrace that approach.


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