Jordan Peele isn’t monkeying around with ‘Nope’

If you’ve been waiting for a summer blockbuster grab a big bag of popcorn and see Nope.
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Rating: 8 out of 10.

Allegedly, the title of writer/director Jordan Peele’s new film, Nope, is an acronym for “not of planet Earth,” but it’s also the word Daniel Kaluuya’s character (OJ Haywood) utters when first encountering the movie’s aliens. Either way, it’s a fitting moniker and a word you will probably say to yourself more than once while watching this fun, unique and horrifying monster-flick.

The film is full of surprises, so I’m going to try hard not to spoil anything here. The basic premise is that a small family of horse trainers in the California desert is terrorized by something in the sky – something that may or may not be what you think.

There’s also a subplot with a small western-themed carnival attraction that is, in turn, tied to a seeming unrelated short-story that is utterly terrifying. At first, I thought it was just a vanity banner for Peele’s “Monkeypaw Productions” and I still can’t see any real connective tissue to the main story here, but, wow, it is some powerful filmmaking.

In addition to Kaluuya, Nope also stars Keith David as the Haywood family patriarch, Keke Palmer as OJ’s free-spirited sister, Brandon Perea as a helpful Fry’s Electronics technician, Steven Yeun as the western park owner/entertainer, and Michael Wincott as a weird documentary filmmaker named Antlers Holst.

For me, some of the best parts of this film were when the music plays a significant role, like OJ galloping on a horse trying to evade the UFO while classic western-themed music blares. And who knew that Corey Hart’s Sunglasses at Night song could be so creepy when played at half-speed…? Apparently, Jordan Peele knew.

With Get Out (2017), Us (2019), his Twilight Zone series, and now Nope, Peele has proved himself as a suspense genre filmmaker on par with (or better than) Alfred Hitchcock, Brian De Palma and John Carpenter, while paying respectful homage to those directors. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

Nope isn’t perfect (it has at least one serious plot hole), but it is perfectly entertaining and edge-of-your-seat scary.

If you’ve been waiting for a summer blockbuster, grab a big bag of popcorn — the wait is over.

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.

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