Somewhere between their second and third season, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele’s “Key and Peele” exploded in popularity. Legendary sketches like the “East/West College Bowl,” “Obama’s Anger Translator” and, of course, “Substitute Teacher” succeeded in capturing the zeitgeist in a way that few sketch shows ever do.
But by seasons four and five, it was clear that the glory days of “Key and Peele” were, unfortunately, behind it. More people were watching, but some of the quality of those earlier sketches had been lost. That is why it was not particularly surprising when it was announced that “Key and Peele” would be ending its run in 2015 so that Key and Peele could focus on movies. And while their first release (last year’s “Keanu”) was not particularly successful or funny, Peele’s solo film, “Get Out” is a return to form, reaching even higher highs than those first seasons of “Key and Peele.”
The film centers on successful photographer Chris (played by Daniel Kaluuya, who you might know from “Black Mirror”) who goes to the suburbs for the weekend to meet his girlfriend’s family. However, the problem when it comes to discussing “Get Out” is that this is a film that should not be spoiled. Peele knows exactly what his audience is expecting and throws out more than a few red herrings, subverting expectations even in the film’s final scene. In fact, do not even watch the trailer, which is an incredibly effective piece of marketing but gives away just a little bit too much.
One thing I can easily say to anyone about “Get Out” is that you will still enjoy this movie even if you do not generally like horror movies. “Get Out” has a much broader appeal than the usual jump scare demon garbage that passes for horror these days, and while the film does have some scary moments, there is nothing too gory or disturbing. As someone who usually does not like horror movies, I can happily report that “Get Out” transcends the genre.
Truly, what is so impressive about “Get Out” is that it accomplishes the rare feat of being both a crowd-pleasing movie and a film that paints a complex view of race in America today. This is a movie that certainly has something to say, but that is also fun enough to appeal to all. A lot of that praise can be given directly to Peele, who both wrote and directed the film.
Peele deftly balances the horror and comedy elements with such style that I was almost reminded of British genius Edgar Wright’s first two films, “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.” That’s high praise—and no accident. All of Wright’s movies are extremely well written and Peele has said in interviews that he actually spoke to Wright on how to structure “Get Out” and it shows in really nice, subtle ways. Again, I cannot say exactly how it is so praise-worthy without spoiling some great segments of the film, but the film does a great job of foreshadowing what is to come.
Within Peele’s comedic work, he has always shown himself to be the quieter and more behind-the-scenes performer, playing the calm and cool President Barack Obama in contrast to Key’s anger translator, or to a character showing up at the very end of the over-the-top substitute teacher sketch. But if Peele turns strictly to writing and directing instead of acting, I do not think that is necessarily a bad thing. There are very few directors whose first film is anywhere near the quality of “Get Out,” and even fewer actors-turned-directors.
If you have a chance to see “Get Out” in theaters, I highly recommend it—this was a film built to be experienced in a group. You have probably heard that “Get Out” scored the mythical 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes (actually that number went down to 99 in the past few days because a single critic from the incredibly conservative magazine “The National Review” didn’t like that the film seemed pro-Obama), but “Get Out” is the rare movie that lives up to the hype. You will have fun and leave with a lot to think about.