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OVP: Get Out (2017)

Film: Get Out (2017)
Stars: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Caleb Landry Jones
Director: Jordan Peele
Oscar History: 4 nominations/1 win (Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay*, Actor-Daniel Kaluuya)
Snap Judgment Ranking: 3/5 stars

2017 as a whole has been a bit of a downer cinematically, both in terms of overall quality of the movies and in terms of the Box Office, but that doesn't mean there haven't been exceptions, and one of the biggest ones was the shocking success of Get Out, which on a miniscule budget (only $4.5 million) it made a quarter of a billion dollars, and was subjected to ravenous reviews, particularly for Jordan Peele's potent script, which managed to combine a horror film, a comedy, and make a pointed examination of racism in the United States.  I missed the film in theaters as I tend to be a wimp about scary movies (what?  I live alone!), but caught it recently on DVD, and while I wasn't as enthralled as other critics, I have to admit it was a pretty potent combination from a director coming into his own.

(Spoilers Ahead) The film center around Chris (Kaluuya), a young photographer who is going to meet his girlfriend Rose's (Williams) parents for the first time.  Chris is concerned about Rose's parents not approving of him since he is black, but Rose assures him that they'll be fine, but may try to over-compensate.  Chris meets Rose's parents, and her father Dean (Whitford) in particular comes across as saying overtly racist things to try and not appear racist (like talking about how Obama is such a good president), while his wife Missy (Keener) hypnotizes Chris into trying to quit smoking.  Things become much odder later on in the picture at a garden party where we see the racist ways that older people interact with Chris, asking him about black stereotypes and commenting on his physicality.

What we don't know, but soon learn, is that Rose and her entire family are actually racist scientists, trying to exploit young black people for profit.  They are able to transplant the minds of older white people into the minds of younger black individuals, which is why Rose has brought Chris to the house-it's sort of a Stepford Wives situation.  Eventually Chris escapes and kills Rose's family in the process, but not before he himself is almost killed in the pursuit.

The film centers around a number of politically-relevant issues, but Peele turns the typical racist narrative on its head by making it seemingly well-meaning liberals who are the villains, not your typical Rod Steiger-style southern police officers.  The film is quite pointed in showing the ways that institutional racism still exists in every walk of life, from commenting on sexual slavery (there are multiple illusions about Chris being used sexually, and stereotypes that society still perpetuates about black men), to the fact that white people economically exploited black people for centuries (the auction scene is the most obvious illusion to slavery, but it's all over in a film that, brain transplant surgery aside, doesn't seem entirely detached from reality, which may be its most terrifying trick).  The movie's script is its star in this regard, sharply including asides about the police, white privilege, and even the obvious nod to how missing black people are not as valued or pursued by the media as missing white people (think about it this way-who is more likely to be a CNN headline if they went missing-someone who looks like Daniel Kaluuya or Allison Williams?).

This sharpness doesn't essentially allow me to love the movie, I'll admit.  Being smart and cutting doesn't always get around a predictable story beat (literally every twist in the movie you can see coming a mile away), and the acting isn't consistent as you'd hope (for every performance like Betty Gabriel's terrific Georgina, you have Caleb Landry Jones hamming it up as Rose's violent brother).  As a result, I can't say that I loved the movie, but I do think that it shows that Peele could be a really fascinating voice in the cinema, and considering the success of this film on all fronts, he better get the opportunity.

Those are my thoughts on Get Out-how about yours?  I know this was a movie a lot of people caught, so I am guessing there's some opinions out there-feel free to share in the comments.  I'm particularly curious to see if anyone thinks this crosses the line into Silence of the Lambs/Sixth Sense territory where it might be nominated for an Oscar (but where?).

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