“Nope” is a surprisingly funny and clever film that will leave you thinking.
Although the marketing has teased an alien-invasion plot, Peele again seeks to turn some of our expectations on their heads, playfully toying with conventions of the genre.
By setting much of the action on a remote horse ranch outside Los Angeles, the writer-director-producer mounts the terror on a smallish family scale, closer to M.
Night Shyamalan’s “Signs” than the grandeur of Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” despite those bubbling clouds and foreboding skies.
Said family consists of siblings OJ (Daniel Kaluuya, reuniting with the director) and Emerald (Keke Palmer), who have inherited their father’s ranch and business wrangling horses for Hollywood.
OJ sells stock to Ricky “Jupe” Park (Steven Yeun), who is a carnival-barker and runs an oddly located tourist spot in the middle.
But the middle of nowhere is also where UFO-type sightings were common in the past.
And things get really, really strange.
OJ and Emerald’s quest for truth leads to Brandon Perea (a very amusing local video guy), who watches too many programs on the cable TV’s crowded Alien-amongst-us tier.
However, Perea is useful if OJ wants evidence that can be used by Oprah.
OJ, unlike his chatty sister, is very verbose (hence the title).
However, Kaluuya conveys more information with an intense stare than anyone else, so “Nope” manages to keep you on edge, even with some time spent exploring family dynamics.
Yet Peele also takes off in a few odd directions, including a weird detour via flashbacks that displays his gift for mixing comedy and horror without necessarily advancing the larger plot.
Peele cleverly uses a range of sources including Sci-Fi movies from the 1950s, at least in tone.
He relies on viewers for filling in any gaps.
But the film’s response to the threatening sequence is rather mundane.
The movie builds toward a satisfying climax that’s beautiful shot and fantastically orchestrated (credit to Michael Abels), but it doesn’t feel very complete.
It’s fine not to spell out answers to every question, but Peele leaves the rules hazy and too many loose ends.
For all that, “Nope” is visually striking — particularly those scenes shot in broad daylight — and worthy of a big screen.
Peele’s movie is intended to be shared by a large audience thanks to its mix of humor and horror.
While “Get Out,” in some ways, brought new life to the genre, by including themes that encouraged thoughtful discussion about race and racism.
However, “Nope”, while more modest, is more fun.
In fact, it feels less cluttered than “Get Out”, which makes it feel more quirky, but doesn’t give up its most interesting ideas.
Are “Nopes” worth watching? Yep.
But to the extent “Get Out” offered the complete package in an Oprah-worthy way, this latest journey into the unknown is entertaining without rising to meet those over-the-moon expectations.
“Nope” premieres July 22 in US theaters.
Adapted from CNN News