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Peele’s ‘Nope’ Might Be Year’s Worst Film

Shockingly bad third act sinks director's dumb, woke-free UFO thriller

Jordan Peele, meet M. Night Shyamalan.

The “Sixth Sense” director was once the toast of Hollywood before his films devolved into tortured “gotcha” exercises. Shyamalan has never been the same, creatively speaking, even if he occasionally teases a return to form a la 2016’s “Split.”

Can we expect a similar arc with Peele following his third film, “Nope?”

Even the best directors have clunkers on their resume – Steven Spielberg’s “1941” may be the best example. It’s how badly Peele orchestras his UFO thriller that should give even his greatest fans pause.

NOPE | Official Trailer

Oscar-winner Daniel Kaluuya stars as O.J. Haywood, son of a Hollywood-approved horse farmer. His pappy (Keith David, in a micro-cameo that screams for more screen time) supplied horses for various TV and movie projects over the years. Now, the son is trying to follow his lead, aided by his headstrong sister, Em (Keke Palmer, in a grating performance).

A curious cloud collection above their ranch interrupts that quest.

There’s something peculiar in the sky formations, and it forces the Haywoods to consider its connection to both a family tragedy and their immediate survival.

That’s all audiences need to know going into “Nope” beyond the obvious. It’s a UFO thriller, full stop. Peele proved his horror instincts were first rate with “Get Out” and “Us,” so shifting to science fiction felt like a lateral move, talent wise.

Something sizable got lost in the shift.

RELATED: Jordan Peele’s Left-Leaning ‘Us’ Earns Its Progressive Chills

Let’s start with the Haywoods. Kaluuya earned an Oscar for his work in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and his intensity is a welcome asset for any film. Or should we say “most” movies?

He’s a dullard here, moping around his farm and barely connecting with sister Em, who overacts as if to compensate for her brother’s charisma vacuum. 

You’re rooting for their survival, of course, but barely by genre standards.

The story itself offers a slow-burn template without the details that keep us engaged. The father-son dynamic hinted at in the opening never blooms, nor is there much dramatic tension tied to their horse business.

Snore.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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The most arresting part of “Nope” has little to do with the actual story. We see, via flashbacks, how a cute animal went wild and destroyed the set of a ’90s TV show. It’s a terrifying sequence showing Peele at his instinctual best. And you could remove every second of it from the film and it wouldn’t change a thing.

“Nope” doesn’t lurch into “Worst Movie of the Year” material until the third act. The characters’ motivations prove elusive, as does any real sense of danger. The finale drags on, and on, and the pay off is cartoonish and maddening.

Just make this movie stop. Please.

Secondary characters offer some respite, but even they are poorly integrated into the film. Veteran actor Michael Wincott suggests a subplot worthy of our inspection, but his character’s choices make no sense when it counts the most.

RELATED: ‘Antebellumm’ Delivers Lectures, Not Thrills 

Peele helped pioneer a new wave of socially conscious, uniformly progressive horror. Previous directors used the genre to send both chills and a message. Think George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead,” the 1968 shocker that explored race relations in a way no other film could.

“Get Out” scorched liberal white guilt, among other contemporary issues. “Us” delivered a more complicated message about culture, class and social mobility.

Neither film wallowed in its messaging. Peele shrewdly kept the story, and scares, top of mind. It’s something other artists routinely fail to do, and why each new Peele movie feels like an event.

“Nope,” for better and worse, offers little to any deeper meaning except one chilling note. Peele may not be the auteur we imagined.

Hit or Miss: “Nope” is more than one of the year’s worst films. It’s a sign Jordan Peele’s narrative instincts are betraying him … and us.

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43 Comments

  1. I’m confused by this review … so because Peele doesn’t force-feed an un-needed social commentary (sometimes based on false narrative(s), the movie is bad??? “Woke-free” ya say? Hell … sign me up! Here’s a little hint: The reason box office revenues are plummeting, people are jumping ship on many streaming platforms, etc., is because when we turn to Hollywood, we’d like to be entertained, not lectured to. Especially by some of the most privileged people on the planet. Top Gun is smashing records exactly because it *didn’t* produce an anti-America, ‘everything is racist and horrible’-type story line. And don’t get me wrong … powerful social commentary is absolutely needed in film. The problem is, the last few years have been nothing but forced ideological lectures by an elite class of snobs who wouldn’t understand true oppression if it smacked them in the face with a sledgehammer. People are tired of it, and rightly so.

    1. I detest woke movies and am a strong conservative. This movie is stupid. Its well made, but I don’t know who made the decision SPOILER that a territorial sky amoeba was a better horror creature than aliens, but they need to be fired. This movie isn’t good and just because it isn’t woke doesn’t mean it’s good.

    2. If you don’t understand the title’s context then say that. His choice to use a simplified title for his work is his choice. I found it appropriate.

    3. 2 hours of my life I will never get back. My boyfriend even gave me my last warning about choosing bad movies. I convinced him it was going to be amazing. Now I’m at home and he’s not even talking to me. Thanks Jordan Peele

    1. I got more enjoyment sitting in a bathroom stall at truck stop next to a Mexican restaurant for 5 minutes than the 2 hours I’ll never get back, if you haven’t seen it yet, just say Nope

  2. Thank Hollywood in Toto for once again saving my movie dollars and my time. I was skeptical about the good over the top reviews of “Get Out”, begrudgingly saw it and was blown away by how good it was. Then I saw “Us” and again was pleasantly shocked by the very quality of the scares and the overall quality of the film. To this day I consider all of Peele’s films to be Science Fiction/Horror combinations. I passed on “Antebellumm” because of movie reviews and was pleased when I saw that audiences agreed and even avoided it on premium cable. Now the review of “Nope” which, from the trailers, I surmised was a UFO movie. Occasionally all directors get a dud. I like your reference to Spielberg’s “1941” with supporting actor John Belushi. I would say however that 2 duds in a row in a young director’s life could spell disaster for their future projects. Perhaps in the future he should use more than one word in his titles and focus on film quality and near artistic perfection. We get it. He wants to carve out a career of doing one (or two) word titles. Ooh! How edgy! That doesn’t make for a serious filmmaker, but for a flash in the wanna-be pan.

  3. I had to leave a comment because I will not stand by and let you or anyone besmirch 1941. That movie is an underrated comedy with a fantastically underrated John Williams score.

  4. It’s obvious that, as a whole, society is just ignorant. People watch garbage “reality” tv shows and spend hours watching and making pointless videos. There is less intellectual conversation, self growth and reading! It shows when a movie is not “dumbed down” and people consider it bad. At least be cognizant of Jordan’s type of art and story telling and just stick to your reality tv shows!

    1. Sorry Roxie, there is some truth to that, and some that is bs. Not everyone, like the majority of this country, wants a self-destructive, whoa’s-me movie, every-time they go to the cinema. Yes, there is definitely some dumbing down in media, however, don’t grandstand oneself by thinking you are better than everyone because you are above the class system, and don’t have bias and you supremely understand Peele’s movies more than others, and appreciate them more, that says nothing about you, except you are arrogant, and self-serving. Newsflash, everyone has bias’s and there is a class-system unfortunately, but the movies are ‘designed’ for amusement for the masses and to take one away from what is going on in the real world, as the real world can be pretty sad. A real test of personhood, is to rise above, work harder, and brake barriers, not to put blame on others for one’s misfortunes. I hope this helps you and start to appreciate what movies are for, to entertain, and amuse, not to further drown oneself in loathing or self-pitty.

  5. It really was the worst movie of the year (and I loved Get Out). All the hype makes it worse. Don’t waste your money. It was so bad and even painful to watch. The monkey scene is the only good part and that is short.

    1. I laughed at the monkey scene, even though it had nothing really to do with the movie, the movie itself is terrible, I could have watched the monkey stomping people for two hours and it would of been more entertaining. I would of really like to see the sister get eaten , she was awful, annoying, and the first few minutes you could tell her brother was fed up with her constant bs

  6. CRAP should of been a more appropriate one word title,Nope should be the next word out of your mouth if someone asks you to see this giant turd of a film , a Papier-mâché / origami – balloon shaped octopus floating around the sky for the last 20 minutes is basically what resembles the god-awful idea for an alien creature/life form you will waste 20 minutes of your life watching float around the sky at the end of this . Whoever reviewed and watched the completed version of this after post production and thought that this would be a good quality final product to watch should be beaten in public like a pinata, If misery enjoys company then watch this, Myself however, Nope. J.P you lost your mind

    1. It’s 2 hours at averageness. Funny at times, racist in that it portrays all the white people in it as old and stupid – your name is OJ? Really? Pathetic. And a really shallow story. Banal.

  7. This film is amazing as both the title and the recommendation use the same word, nope!
    This could be used as a masterclass in how not to tell a story.
    We can start with the two massively unlikable main characters. After the first few bits of his acting I asked the person with me if he was supposed to be mentally deficient. Unable to form a complete sentence, mumbling, unprepared for what he was doing, unable to explain anything, and he went downhill from there.
    The sister is portrayed as the perennial 16 year old even though she is 30? There is a lot to do on the ranch but all she wants to do is listen to music excessively loudly, drink and otherwise act like an irresponsible kid.
    I teach creative writing and one rule is “if it adds nothing to the story, don’t include it. If it does not have an impact then it is fluff, get rid of it.”
    If you were to do that to this piece of drek, you would have about 8 minutes of movie left, and that wouldn’t be any good either.
    The father, adds nothing to the film
    The entire backstory of the adult child actor, adds nothing but you can imagine someone involved in this rubbish saying “Hey, hey, how about if we stick in…” and people just going “cool, yeah, and maybe this.”
    The film is chopped into ‘acts’ just to ensure you are removed completely from the film, not that anyone with a double digit IQ could be into it. Screen goes black, word appears, film sadly continues.
    I think Jordan Peele is very funny. I think he is very talented.
    You will see a lot of reviews and commentaries “explaining” the film, or the subtle nuances you may have missed.
    This is because no one wants to say “Holy crap was that awful”.
    I could write pages on how bad this film is from the terrible casting
    Brother and sister raised on a ranch, everyone else has a country accent, they however have an inner city one because, well, acting talent from a-b.
    inconsistencies in plot, and oh god there are so many.
    Horses flee at the first sign of the alien, except for the dramatic end scene for our hero to face off.
    insane behaviour and unrealistic reactions
    bit of a spoiler although i won’t give details. If you have suffered through this, it will make sense





    House covered in blood and guts etc, well, no reason to phone the police
    60-100 people missing, news reporter, and cops reaction, oh well might have been a flood. WT actual F!!!!!! Ah yes, those rare hilltop floods that leave no water damage, the park trashed
    ok
    I have to stop, the best part of this movie was leaving at the end

    1. Well put, the suspension of disbelief is completely broken by the end of the film causing it to be laughable

    2. Love your review, former teacher, and you are spot on in everything you stated…unfortunately, most are not educated anymore in the writing process, the whole rising action, climax/resolution, falling action thing, you make a great comment.

  8. Geez, I didn’t think it was bad! I don’t really see what y’all are saying. The only parts I wish weren’t in were all the references to the sister’s lesbianism.

  9. They had Keke palmer running around like the most racist caricature of a modern day urban black woman you could think of, to the point of being “generalizingly” offensive. Daniel Kaluuya didnt even act the whole fucking movie, just sat there with glassy eyes. Motives are unclear and unexplained, they wanted to get on modern day ophrah? or some crap? The random filmmaker dude, the scene with the little kids, the monkey accident??? (one of the only entertaining parts but it doesnt make any sense) are incredibly random and remind you its a movie…The premise of “dont look up” or dont make eye contact at some demi-god outer space alien is perhaps the dumbest thing ive ever seen. Also the fact they literally use the “Nope” meme. People dont act like that in real life. Perhaps one of the worst films ever besides the concept

    1. Keke was extremely obnoxious, all the dialogue was stilted and unnatural. All the characters were valid caricatures full of cliches and tropes. This movie wanted to be Signs so badly

  10. Did anyone think it was a giant butthole from Uranus just crapping on everything, I thought it was a comedy. I laughed out loud during a couple of scenes. Just a big anus in the sky pooping out stuff. Hilarious!

  11. I’ve seen a lot of bad movies in my time but this absolutely has to be one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. This is a movie of words strung together with no meaning, a movie somehow made with a total absence of acting, plots and subplots and scenes that have no relevance to anything, a pace that is so slow and a rhythm that is so off that you’ll sit there wishing you would either get scared or laugh or die of boredom or SOMETHING…. ANYTHING… in general this is just a horrible horrible movie. Need I mention the scary alien was a Giant floating cloth mushroom that was TRULY LAUGHABLE . These critics that are reading everything into this actual POS and trying so hard to make it a classic (or worse an intelligent film) are even more laughable than the movie itself. They’re obviously disingenuously doing everything they can to be politically correct and act like this overpaid undertalented Mess of a director is actually worth our while. Please please don’t waste your time this is 2 hours you will never get back. You could sit still and be more productive

    1. Agreed. I couldn’t get invested when the entire cast were reacting as if a bear was terrorizing them and not a foreign, massive flying object that ate their horses, killed their father and appeared from the sky. No one was was as terrified as they should’ve been at all. It’s all very jokey

      1. Now mix in the fact they stayed for potential money shot and not survival and the whole idea of the third act is neither survival nor hunt but… greed ?

  12. I’m a complete Dope for getting suckered in to see NOPE why did they make the trailer so epic. Imagine if your at a dance club you have no game so u stick the biggest cucumber down your pants to make the ladies think you got a horses …. she goes home with you thinking she is going to get a then realizes ur just an Average Joe trickery the first 40 minutes was a snoozer then the movie didn’t know if wanted to be a horror movie or an alien movie or a bad angels I’m still confused. Don’t be a dope and say Nope

  13. I have to be honest, a friend took me to see this last night and three things bothered me about this film:

    1). It was just plain tedious for most of the duration
    2). I have a hard time understanding the dialect of American black people. Subtitles would have helkped.
    3). That poor girl in the lead had terrible dialogue. Every other word out of her mouth was either “sh_t” or “f_ck”. Maybe that’s the new normal, but not for me and the kind of people I associate with.
    I’m about ready to give up on Mr. Peele.

  14. I have to admit I hated this movie. It wasn’t very good but also the monkey thing is disrespectful to the people it happened to in real life. It’s something that didn’t need to be included or could have been done differently. The whole movie is bad so that little intro while it ties into things still isn’t right. Peele seems racist too. No black person is harmed but he mutilates asians (but it’s okay to steal akira and neon genesis references from them) and chews up white people. If I white person made this movie twitter and the self righteous pigs that inhabit it would have problems with that but since it’s a black man being racist, it’s fine for them.

    The plot was bad, some of the directing was off and so much more was wrong from poor dialogue to extremely bad acting by the leading lady of the film.

    Usually i let my feelings go about a film hours to a day later but now one week later, and it still upsets me.

  15. I bought a ticket for this because it was hot out and I had nothing better to do. Same reason I watched it until the end. Why is it ok for these people to steal whatever they want? ( horse statue and wind socks)?. Guy punched what he thought was an alien, then said, oh, it was just one of the (white) kids we stole the horse statue from. Anti white racism undoes the plus of a black family business

  16. Pretentious too long B movie
    Horror, comedy, social commentary…
    Nothing materializes
    Even the great Michael Wincott can save this
    Maybe the director is having a laugh seeing all the experts seeing the masterpiece of the millennium

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