“NOPE” is the latest feature from critical darling Jordan Peele, who has had marketing agencies and critics falling over themselves all summer trying to promote his overly ambiguous project.
It was like Peele’s the next Alfred Hitchcock about to deliver his next “PSYCHO” of sorts.
However, someone needs to sit down with Peele and explain to him that ambitious storylines and bloated budgets (along with over-extended running times) only work when you have something to say. And more importantly, when you know how to say it. Penning an original concept only gets you so far. The talented auteur behind “GET OUT” and the more adventurous “US” proves here that bigger is not always better.
The Jest of Things
After a freak accident kills their father, estranged brother Otis (Daniel Kaluuya) and sister Emerald (Keke Palmer) try to pick up the pieces on their family’s once thriving horse wrangling business. Since neither have a notion on how to deal with ranching, or their Hollywood clients’ inflated egos, it’s not hard to see bankruptcy in their future.
Meanwhile, neighbor Jupe (Steven Yeun) makes an offer to buy the dying ranch amidst his own strange business practices. This often teeters with exploiting his own past career as a child actor whose hit TV show was cancelled after a horrifying mishap with a chimp.
“NOPE” was well photographed and I did like the characterizations of the timid brother and the forthright sister duo, who despite their behavioral differences actually behave like real siblings. Also, added in a much needed dose of comic relief is the part of Angel (Brandon Perea), a dazzling security camera installer who seems like he’s escaped from the Geek Squad House of Horrors at Best Buy.
The beauty of this film is definitely in its mystery, where the audience is never quite sure where they’re headed.
Unfortunately, Peele doesn’t seem to know either.
It’s Peele’s deliberately allusive screenplay, however, that comes off as half-baked, sinking whatever payoff he was going for in his film. The chimp subplot, for instance, makes several appearances and it does eventually make sense (sorta), but it is so far removed from the rest of the story that its subplot just seems to be in the way.
Instead of touting this once-promising director as the next Hitchcock, as many print hungry movie critics have already done, Peele might be preparing himself to be the next M. Night Shyamalan. And not in a “SIXTH SENSE” kinda way.
Of course, Hollywood is far more letdown than satisfaction these days. Actually, it’s rare to find a film that delivers everything the audience expects. However, there is a ray of light in the dingy darkness of Tinsel Town.
Think Netflix with substance. Or integrity.
The amount of smut out there is overwhelming, at the least. However, last year, the Kevin Jackson Network launched the Flick Fest. Finally, a streaming service that will drive you towards galvanizing, independent, award-winning movies and shorts. And these are the kinds of shows you will be happy to share with your family. Take a week to try it out. You can thank me later.