Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Caleb Landry Jones, Lakeith Stanfield, Stephen Root, LilRel Howery, Marcus Henderson, Betty Gabriel
Directed By: Jordan Peele
Plot: A young black man (Kaluuya) goes to his white girlfriend’s (Williams) parents (Whitford/Keener) for the weekend for an introduction. He’s worried they don’t know he’s black. She tells him they would have voted for Obama a third time. He slowly starts to figure out that not all is right in liberal white suburbia, and the color of his skin may very well have put him in danger.
What Works: Everything? I mean, other than this film having some pacing issues in the middle, where I could honestly say about 5 minutes needs to be trimmed, this film is pretty perfect. The beginning and end are both paced perfectly. This film was written purposefully, with a specific meaning and story behind it. Jordan Peele had something to say, much like I praised Ice Cube for last year when he used his Barbershop franchise to talk about black issues. Here, Peele tries to reach his audience, both white and black, to talk about a very uncomfortable topic: racism. He goes the hard route too, with liberal elite being the villains, instead of redneck hillbillies. It’d be easy to finger wag at someone holding a confederate flag, but that’s not the story Peele wants to tell, and that’s why Get Out is so brilliant, and such a huge hit. Another contributor to the quality and success is the cast, led with a brilliant breakthrough performance from Daniel Kaluuya, as well as some great supporting work from Williams, and LilRel Howry as the films only source of truly hilarious moments. LilRel is almost the voice of the audience, commenting throughout, thinking what we’re thinking. You may have seen a film like Get Out before, but only at its core. It’s like seeing an onion amongst a pile of onions, but when you peel it back, you find out that its actually an apple wrapped in an onion skin. Sure, it looked the same when you first glanced, but the end product is wildly different from the others in the batch.
What Doesn’t Work: Like I said, pacing in the middle. When we get to the party scene, and then the scene with Rose and Chris off on their own, I felt like there was a lot there that could have been trimmed. It felt like it was dragging a bit. It’s hard to keep momentum going the whole duration of the movie, but it can be done. Jordan Peele was so close to having full-film momentum, it just sagged a bit in the middle.
Final Word: I have to commend Peele for not using cheap jump scares to get at his audience. Are there moments that cause a jump? Yes. But what I call a “cheap jump scare” is a dog barking at the screen for no reason, or a phone ringing in dead silence. those are cheap. Every jump scare here is a direct result of the story or plot, and not just something thrown in as a “gotcha!” moment. I feel like I’ve seen something truly original, with a unique perspective, and I love that. I just think it needs some tightening up in the second act, because the first and third are great.
Final Grade: A-