Movie Poster for Nope
"Movie Poster for Nope," Nope, directed by Jordan Peele, 2022, (Universal)

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Unlike his past movies, Jordan Peele’s “Nope” doesn’t seek to be too deep or inspire a litany of online think pieces. It’s just a decent alien movie.

Director(s) Jordan Peele
Screenplay By Jordan Peele
Date Released (In Theaters) 7/21/2022
Genre(s) Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Duration 2 Hours 10 Minutes
Content Rating Rated R
Noted Cast
Emerald Keke Palmer
OJ Daniel Kaluuya
Otis Sr. Keith David
Angel Brandon Perea
Antlers Michael Wincott
Ricky Steven Yeun

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

Film Summary

For generations, the Haywood family has raised horses featured in Hollywood films. In fact, the first motion picture featured one of their relatives riding a horse. But that was generations ago, and now, the Haywood family aren’t doing as good. Otis Sr. has recently passed, Otis Jr., aka OJ, doesn’t have the charisma his dad had, so he isn’t able to market the family company well. And while Emerald does have the gift of gab, she doesn’t have any interest in the family business.

However, a potential shift comes after OJ spots something in the sky. Especially once Emerald sees something too and puts a plan into motion to capture this UFO in the sky and make money off it. Thus, the two of them, with a local tech salesperson named Angel and a Hollywood cinematographer named Antlers, try to capture the UFO on film that is haunting the Haywood’s ranch.

The problem is, the UFO doesn’t like when you look at it.

Things To Note

  • Reason(s) for Film Rating: Cursing (Throughout), Violence (Blood, occasional grotesque imagery), Sexual Content (none), Miscellaneous (Drinking and drug use)

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Emerald

Emerald is basically Keke Palmer, but queer and from a family who has trained and made careers from having their horses used for films. Which she rebels against and rather do anything, whether being a caterer, acting, or trying her hand at some camera work, ANYTHING.

Otis Sr.

Charismatic but tough, Otis Sr. kept the family business going and trained Otis Jr to succeed him. However, it wasn’t expected to be as soon as it was.

Otis Jr.

Unlike his father and sister, Otis Jr., aka OJ, is introverted and doesn’t really want to bother nobody or raise his voice. He was trained to do a job, and do a job well, and in life, that seems to be all he wants to do. It was what his ancestors did, and he just wants to follow suit.

Angel

Angel is a local electronics store tech who finds himself intrigued by how vague and dodgy OJ and Emerald are about all the cameras they buy.

Antlers

Antlers is a Hollywood cinematographer who learns about what’s going down at the Haywood ranch thanks to Emerald’s gift of gab and being nosy.

Ricky

A child star whose career got off the rails due to a violent incident with a monkey, Ricky now owns a western theme park that he runs with his family, with him as emcee.

Review

Our Rating:  Mixed (Divisive)

Highlights

Keke Palmer Getting To Be Keke Palmer

Essentially, Keke Palmer is playing herself in “Nope,” but within the parameters that there is an alien on her family’s ranch, and getting concrete proof could mean money. Now, this could be iffy for some since Palmer can be quite extra at times. However, Peele reigns that in and refines it enough to make a good dichotomy between Emerald being extroverted and a talker, to her brother OJ being introverted, quiet, and avoiding eye contact when possible.

In a way, you can almost compare them to the horses that were raised. OJ is a broken-in workhorse, who is calm, does what he is told, and doesn’t often get funny ideas. On the other hand, Emerald is still wild, and while not wild enough to lose out on a meal or home, she still feels the need to exert her autonomy.

But, as we’ll go into below, this film is really not that deep. Palmer, though, is an undeniable jokester to Kaluuya’s straight man.

On The Fence

The Alien Was Interesting

Note that the alien is purely visual, and some of the visuals aren’t the most impressive. We see it try to digest people and things when it eats, and it’s not awe-inspiring or gross-out moments. When it releases waste, you may think that leads to some interesting visuals, but it isn’t likely you’ll consider that a highlight.

However, towards the end of “Nope,” when the alien, nicknamed Jean Jacket, gets pissed, it becomes this beautiful, Final Fantasy summon-esque being. One that looks so ethereal that you almost forget it is mainly focused on eating the horses and the leads.

While Think Pieces Can Come Of This, They Likely Won’t Be As Strong As What Came From “Get Out” and “Us”

Unlike “Get Out” or “Us,” “Nope” doesn’t make as much of an effort to be seen as something more. Mainly, it is geared towards being a simple alien movie. Now, this isn’t to say you can’t theorize deeper themes here. You can present the argument that one of the things the film wants to be discussed is the human ego and our desire to tame other species to our will. Be it horses, monkeys, or even aliens, if we could.

However, while “Get Out” and “Us” put racism, classism, and its other themes more to the forefront, “Nope” is different. For one, while you can submit, it still presents a mirror to humanity. It isn’t talking about how we treat each other but other species. Planting that within an alien movie doesn’t lead to a direct confrontation of the audience as the past films.

This isn’t to say through Gordy, the monkey, you can’t understand how the human ego and exploitation of other species isn’t heinous. But, the method to get this across doesn’t feel strong enough or gets lost because it competes with the entertainment factor vs. complementing or adding to it.

Ricky’s Story

Ricky is a former child star, and what seemingly shifted his life is an incident in which a monkey named Gordy got started by a popped balloon and went on a rampage. Now, because Ricky isn’t the lead, it isn’t 100% clear why we see a monkey kill two people and likely mane the woman you see in the trailer, who you likely thought was an alien.

Now, again, can you potentially look for meaning in this? Yes. Ricky’s storyline could be akin to what we said in the last topic regarding humanity’s ego to train other species and thinking, like a horse, they’ll eventually just become docile and do as the human says, as long as they have shelter and food. And when they don’t? Well, what happens to Gordy happens to them.

But, there is something about Ricky’s story being seen and used to further that conversation that feels off. Perhaps his story is the best example of how the various things which are considered entertainment in the horror genre, such as violence, can make the messaging of something deeper get lost in the mix. For Ricky, Gordy snapping was likely one of the most traumatic moments in his life. Yet, it is something he makes a profit off of, and Gordy’s violence doesn’t push him to empathy for animals or even some form of grace. Instead, Gordy is seen as a tool who broke, an animal who disobeyed and thus had to be euthanized. And because Gordy’s actions lost Ricky money, for he was on a hit sitcom, showcasing memorabilia is how he makes up for the money he lost.

In that line of thinking, while Ricky can be seen as a victim when the violence happened, now he can come off like a villain, right? There is a certain level of ambiguity or seeing the situation as evolving. But the problem is with that thought process is that you can’t apples to apples apply what went down with Gordy to the alien. Gordy was able to build a relationship with Ricky and simply snapped due to being a monkey forced to live by another species’ standards and expectations. The alien isn’t made to be more than an alien who wants to feed and not be directly seen.

So, it makes Ricky’s story feel out of place, even if you can fathom what was attempted. For while you can make the idea spill over and coerce Gordy’s story and how Ricky reacted, to coincide with how OJ, and Emerald, tried to handle the alien, it doesn’t align perfectly and you have to force it more than you should have to.

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Movie Poster for Nope
Nope (2022) – Review/ Summary (with Spoilers)
Overall
“Nope” may not be as memorable as “Get Out” or “Us,” but it isn’t bad. It’s just something not expected after Jordan Peele has delivered some of the most memorable and iconic horror films in decades. Especially with Black actors as the leads.
Highlights
Keke Palmer Getting To Be Keke Palmer
Disputable
Ricky’s Story
While Think Pieces Can Come Of This, They Likely Won't Be As Strong As What Came From "Get Out" and "Us"
The Alien Was Interesting
78

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