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Get Out

If “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” took a wrong turn, passed through Stepford, and found itself in a really dark place, what you’d have is Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, “Get Out.”   Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams) are at the meet-the-parents stage of their relationship, and what do you know, Rose’s parents (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford; Keener is especially good) are having a shin-dig at their place in the countryside. Chris is nervous, because Rose says he’s the first black man she’s ever dated, but Rose says don’t worry, my dad would have voted for Obama a third time, if possible.

And thus we’re launched into a carefully observed, tightly written, wryly satiric exploration of what it’s like to be black in white America. And by white America, I don’t mean Trump’s America — it would be easy to put a black man in a dangerous situation there, but instead, we have a bastion of white liberals who continually assure Chris that they’re on his side, and he has nothing to worry about around them. Which makes him all the more nervous.

(Side note: It’s amusing to me that audiences for this movie are most likely to be fans of Keye & Peele’s comedy — that is to say, young blacks and affluent white liberals.  They’re going to have really different experiences in the theater, but the white liberals will pretend they’re having the same experience as the young blacks — that they “get it,” they’re in on the joke, and they just love this movie. I’m seeing it in the critical response to this movie (most movie critics are white liberals) — who are over-praising this movie, because most everybody is afraid of criticizing it.)

“Get Out” is at its best as it adds one slightly odd, slightly uncomfortable circumstance to another and another, as Chris wonders: Is there something sinister going on here, or is he just being paranoid?  We, the audience, know the answer, because we saw the prologue, but it is compelling to watch Chris try to relax and trust, while the White People Alarm in his head keeps going off.

A lot of movies labor and sweat to make one or two political/social points; “Get Out” effortlessly tosses off observations at a stunning pace.  It is always sobering for a white guy like me to remember that the places I would consider perfectly safe — like an upscale lakeside estate — feel dangerous to some black folks, and the places I feel nervous — like an inner city neighborhood — probably feel perfectly safe to them.

As “Get Out” changes gears from social satire with some horror elements, to all out horror, it loses a lot of energy. It’s hard to transition from the smart social satire to the basically silly horror plot. It’s not the kind of movie you’d expect a lot of plausibility from, but some of the plot holes are big enough to drive a truck through. It definitely works better when you’re still wondering what the heck is going on; once you find out, it’s pretty disappointing. As a film, “Get Out” is a fantastic race satire, but it’s a pretty ridiculous horror flick.

 

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Posted in All Reviews, by Will Krischke.

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