Jordan Peele has been in the entertainment business for 20 years now and in the last five years, he went from mostly doing comedy to now mostly doing horror. Get Out is a wonderful horror movie that earned Peele a Best Original Screenplay Oscar. He was back at the Oscars the next year as he produced Spike Lee’s BlackkKlansman. Unfortunately, Us, his second movie as director, came up short as a follow-up.
And suddenly, a name started floating around him as both Us and the Candyman sequel he produced, disappointed fans of the original – Shayamalan. But it seems to happen sometimes when a filmmaker has a hit that people expect him to fail. Hell, look at Steven Spielberg in the 1970s. His first real feature movie The Sugarland Express divided critics. After Jaws, he made his pet project Close Encounters of the Third Kind and it seemed he was on the right track. Then, he made 1941. It happens. But after Raiders of the Lost Ark, Spielberg handles set backs better.
Don’t get me wrong. Peele is a good filmmaker and I think he has some good stories to tell. I liked Nope a lot better than I liked Us, but I didn’t like it that much to give it a good recommendation. It’s basically what critics would give a two-and-a-half star review to back when Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert were the two top critics in Chi-town.
If you’ve been living under a rock and have absolutely no idea what Nope is about, then this might come as a surprise, but it’s about an alien being that looks like a flying saucer, but it able to shape shift but sucks all living organisms up into it where it consumes them. But it’s only if you look at it on many occasions which again causes some confusion.
The movie opens on the set of a family TV sitcom, Gordy’s Home, from the 1990s where a balloon popped loudly during filming causing a chimpanzee to go wild and start attacking the cast and crew. Gordy was about a white couple who had an Asian son and a pet chimpanzee I’m guessing. Then, the movie goes to the Haywood horse ranch in southern California where right before dawn, Otis Haywood Jr., aka O.J. (Daniel Kaluuya) is getting things ready for the day. O.J. and his father, Otis (Keith David) train horses to be used in the entertainment business called Haywood’s Hollywood Horses.
But something happens as objects start falling from the sky at a rapid rate. A nickel becomes embedded in Otis’ head and despite O.J.’s attempts to keep him coherent as he’s rushed to the hospital, he dies. Later, when O.J. brings a horse, Lucky, to a film shoot for a commercial, the production crew doesn’t adhere to O.J.’s warning too well and Lucky gets scared and kicks at a production assistant.
Let go, O.J. and his sister, Emerald (Keke Palmer) take Lucky to their neighbor’s property to sell. Ricky “Jupe” Park (Stephen Yeun) has purchased an amusement park turning it into Jupiter’s Claim with a country-western/Out West theme. O.J. has been selling Jupe the horses to help keep business afloat. Jupe is a former child actor who was on Gordy’s Home the day the chimpanzee went irate and began attacking people. What O.J. doesn’t know is that Jupe has been using the horses to feed to the alien object for the audience’s amusement.
It’s right here where I had to question Jupe’s motives. He’s doing this in front of an audience where they see the alien being, called Jean Jacket, consume a live horse. Yet, no one is mentioning this online. No one is ignoring their claims of no cell phones. No one is running to the American Human Society or PETA to tell them about a former child actor is allowing horses to be killed for amusement. And the former child actor is none other than someone who was on a TV show where an animal went wild and attacked people.
Jupe wouldn’t get through two viewings of this. But from O.J., we learn he’s sold about 10 of the horses. And Lucky is set to be bait for the next show. But O.J. and Emerald notice Jean Jacket too and they try to set up home surveillance equipment to capture it thinking they can profit off of it. At this point, it is my duty to remind you that Emerald is so obnoxious and irritating, you’ll be hoping and praying for her to end up as Jean Jacket’s appetizer. But that’s not the case.
They also attract the attention of Angel Torres (Brandon Perea) a tech at Fry’s Electronics when they purchase a lot of equipment. Then they get renowned cinematographer, Antlers Hoist (Michael Wincott) to help them capture Jean Jacket on film. Also, if you’ve seen any trailer or commercial for Nope, you know something goes horribly wrong during one of Jupe’s live performance of Jean Jacket.
All of this is muddled and doesn’t make a lot of sense. How does O.J. and Emerald think getting the footage is going to make them rich? We live in the era of deep fakes and Photoshop. Peele is having a little more fun with this movie aside from the more serious Get Out. It’s obvious Peele is talking about the dangers of exploitation as we see people milling around a horse on a set that leads to an incident as well as the issue with Gordy. But I really felt the characters of Angel and Antlers could’ve possibly be combined into one. I understand that O.J. and Emerald are supposed to be opposite with him the more careful and serious one.
I’m not really sure Peele thought this script all the way out and he leaves so many holes and questions. How come Jean Jacket only stayed around Jupe’s property? And after the second show, it would’ve have been all over the web. How come only one papparazo only comes out to question after what happens at Jupiter’s Claim? How come no law enforcment officer is left to watch the location? What’s the deal with the helium balloon? How does Emerald suddenly know how to ride a motorcycle?
I mentioned Ebert earlier and he used to talk of the Idiot Plot Device in which a plot is kept in motion solely by the virture of everyone involved being an idiot. Peele does film some thrilling action scenes at the end and there’s a great set-up at the beginning even though we know where it’s headed. But the plot in the middle makes no sense. I didn’t know who I couldn’t stand the worse – Emerald or Angel. And some of the actions by the characters make no sense.
Nope is the most expensive movie Peele has made so far with a budget of $68 million and it’s only made $171 million while both Get Out and Us made over $250 million worldwide each. That’s still an impressive box office. And Nope is scheduled to premiere on Peacock on Nov. 18. about 120 days after it premiered. I think it had more to do than making as much money at the box office as possible now it’s on DVD. I think Universal was afraid of so many people seeing what a letdown this movie is and this bad word of mouth affecting the box office.
What do you think? Please comment.