Yup and Nope to “Nope”

Until its “ah-ha” moment at the end, Jordan Peele’s Get Out (2017) was a unique blend of almost satire, almost horror, and almost socioracial statement. Staying at almost would have kept it above standard, but there’s no denying the ending was a predictable horror movie cliché. 

Peele’s second round with Us (2019) also started strong but quickly became an M. Night Shyamalan/make-up-the-rules-as-we-go affair with loopholes galore.

Now, Mr. Peele bestows us with Nope, and, yup, it’s another second-half letdown despite a promising setup dealing with family trauma, UFO sightings, and two lovable leads.

Hollywood wrangler siblings played by Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer deal with the recent violent and mysterious death of their father on their property. Metallic objects fall from the sky, an ominous cloud tends to stay in the same place above the acreage, and an occasional power outage results in frantic horses and menacing screeches from the sky.

The way Jordan Peele captures the tension in the air is enough to recommend the movie’s first hour. You know how you might catch yourself staring at something you should probably stop staring at? (Like a fed up mom getting a little too aggressive with her bawling kid at a public park?) Well, Jordan does that with his camera and stares just as things get awkward and tense, and then “we” stare some more. Just before the break, the buildup is so aggravating that you can hear the winces and grimaces in the theatre audience.

This consistent execution of suspense is the reason to see Nope, and I guess there’s only so much you can do with a UFO storyline before the rabbit is out of the hat, and the alien is revealed. Like Shyamalan’s Signs (2002), you ultimately get a lot of slapdash explanations and convenient circumstances that put a lid on suspending disbelief. (Remember when water on a planet that is 71% water was discovered as the kryptonite to the aliens in Signs? Well, wait until you discover the Achilles’ heal of Nope‘s aliens.)

Still, Kaluuya’s facial expressions and reactions to the madness are priceless, the gaps of humor are pleasant enough, and something has to be said about making an ordinary, everyday object frightening.

I will never look at clouds the same way again…

*** out of *****

20 thoughts on “Yup and Nope to “Nope”

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    1. Interestingly enough, I think Peele is BETTER at the touches of humor and tongue-in-cheek stuff than the horror metaphor. I wasn’t surprised to find out that he started as a comedian! Thanks for reading. Nope is probably best in the theatre, so please consider it 🙂 Best to you, RB

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You had me at “M. Night.” As we left the theatre after seeing “Nope,” I said to my wife…he’s now reminding me of M. Night Shyamalan. I thought “Get Out” was pretty damn good. I thought “Us” was meh and confused. And now this one. Don’t get me wrong – I loved the general premise and set-up for this film. Heck, maybe there was actually a movie in there somewhere if someone else did it. But, my wife and I thought it was awful. It seems these days film critics will give anyone higher marks just for making a movie that isn’t a sequel or franchise entry. That doesn’t automatically make it any good. I have to believe a lot of folks are coming out of the theatres saying, “well, we could have waited to see that one.” To me, “Nope” was not groundbreaking, thought-provoking, or even entertaining.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice to hear a viewpoint from the opposite perspective of the J. Peele-loving millennials. I sat in the middle. I was enthralled by the first hour but agree with you that the “movie” is more of a cutting board of ideas and sequences to execute suspense and not pursue character development. And then that ending – huge disappointment. Yeah, you’re right – there’s a lot of hype and not enough guts to call it out. I’m a member of millennial-laced Letterboxd, and they are handing out 4-5 stars like candy. We’ve seen so much better, but maybe it’s the post-COVID yearning that has most people praising everything on the screen… Thanks for reading and sharing your viewpoint 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I will say this…my exposure to Peele has been limited to The Twilight Zone. I didn’t like it too well. Rod Serling touched on all kinds of issues but didn’t beat us over the head with it. He made sure to convey there were bad apples spread about…. but not ALL are bad apples…if that makes sense…

    I don’t mind watching something about social issues…in fact I like them but don’t preach at me…be subtle…leave something for the imagination and don’t exaggerate…. Saying all of this… I do want to see this movie.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m on the other end of the Peele spectrum and have only seen his movies. I’ve heard mixed reviews on the postmodern interpretation.

      Yeah, he is all “bend” before he “breaks,” and when the secret is revealed, it feels like an insult or a bad joke. M. Night Shyamalan does the same thing. Younger audiences love it. I’m proud to be too old 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yea I get what you are saying. I do want to see this movie…and I plan to make a theater appearance in the next few weeks. .

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Definitely worth seeing for the classic UFO thrills, which work here for the most part. I’m less forgiving of the ending than most, but it’s, overall, the perfect summer blockbuster in the theatre right now 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Reminds me of some mystery writers who set things up brilliantly, add a creepy tone to the story, build the suspense well and then mess up at the end. Even Gillian Flynn, who’s a terrific writer, sadly falls into that category, although Gone Girl was a step up from her previous efforts.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Great comparison. I’m not sure how you climb out of the hole Flynn dug, but 80% of that story is nail biting suspense and no predictability. I loved it (except the ending, ha!). Did you ever see Don’t Look Now? That one kept me on edge for its entirety.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes, it’s just too difficult to maintain the suspense after the monster has been revealed. Jaws and Alien remain classics because of all the teasing, haha!

      Like

        1. I totally agree with those comparisons! Gosh, maybe I’m more a minimalist as I age. I’m haunted by the subtle, like when we don’t even see anything in Rosemary’s Mary, including the baby!

          Liked by 1 person

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