FILM REVIEW: “Nope” gets a qualified yep

Published 12:02 am Saturday, July 23, 2022

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Universal Pictures

Directed by Jordan Peele

Starring Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, Brandon Perea and Michael Wincott

Rated R

3 Stars

Despite having only three films under his belt, writer/director Jordan Peele has become a fan favorite filmmaker.

One online acolyte went so far last week as to proclaim Peele as the “best horror film director of all time.” To his credit, Peele quickly squashed the claim with a good-natured quip, saying that he would “not tolerate any John Carpenter slander!”

Still, while we debate his place in the pantheon of great directors, there’s no denying Peele has made some fascinating horror/thrillers, the third of which arrives in theaters this weekend.

I personally found “Nope” to be a bit muddled, but I have no problem thinking that it’s a movie that will get fans talking.

“Nope” is a difficult film to describe, partially because I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, but also because the film is so over-stuffed with ideas that it becomes impossible to succinctly sum everything up.

Suffice it to say that “Nope” introduces us to two Hollywood horse wranglers, a brother and sister team (Daniel Kalyuua and Keke Palmer) who decide to try and photography the mysterious flying objects that keep buzzing over their ranch.

A former TV star turned Old West theme park empresario (Steven Yeun) and an electronics store employee (Brandon Perea) sign up for the mission to document the UFOs.

It’s a lot of fun tagging along with these appealing characters. Kaluuya makes for an appealing everyman hero, while Palmer brings her infectious brand of energy to the story to make sure your interest never wanes.

The film is also very enjoyable. It starts off with some subtle comic moments and pop culture references before settling into its main narrative thrust. The problem is by the time the story kicks into high gear, Peele has given us so many incidental ideas and motifs that the film never finds its focus.

It’s a shotgun blast of a movie that is still very effective, even while the individual ideas don’t coalesce into one killer movie.

I did enjoy the film’s cinematography and creepy score. Perhaps most-importantly, “Nope” has some genuinely creepy moments, and there’s a real sense Peele has been studying old movies and incorporated the best lessons into his own work.

Mix that work ethic in with his original point of view and you have a recipe for a filmmaker who will be with us for a very long time.

Who knows, maybe one day he will be universally acclaimed as the best horror film director of all time. It’s a lofty goal, but the filmmaker’s not there yet.

“Nope” turns out to be the weakest of his three films so far, but one that’s so-overstuffed with ideas that I’m happy to give “Nope” a qualified “Yep.”

Movie reviews by Sean McBride, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week by Orange Newsmedia and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at