It was only after I wrote how long the movie Nope was that I realised…just how long it was. Did it need to be that long? Not particularly, but, if you liked the movie, the length was appropriate. If you felt ambivalent towards it, like I did, the length was confusing.
Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Steven Yeun star in the 2h15m movie.
Nope is a movie set in a Western town in America (pick one, any one) where a family, famous for their horses in Hollywood, encounter a mysterious happening that has its roots set in a creepy event in the past.
When the father of the ranch dies, the children, played by Kaluuya and Palmer, have to assume the mantle to make their ranch continue to be profitable. But it just isn’t the same, and so the son starts selling horses to a popular amusement park owner, to use in his main show – getting the horses to prompt supernatural events. But what do these supernatural events really mean, and even more importantly, what exactly is behind them?
At the end of the movie, I had to go look up what it was that Jordan Peele was trying to say before I understood it. There was an obvious message, of course – spoiler alert – don’t use animals for commercial gain, or treat them like pets, for example, because that always comes back to literally bite you. Then there were a few online interpretations that alluded to – another spoiler alert – the use of plastic and how it’s going to kill us all. The alien at the end was eventually subverted by plastic that it apparently couldn’t resist. But all of it felt weighty and convoluted to me.
The real scare at the beginning bore no fruit. The siblings deciding to try and sell their encounter with the third kind seemed far-fetched, futile and dangerous considering what they were already facing, especially with the weird circumstances that surrounded their father’s death. That they would then decide that this is how to make money from it seemed like too far a leap.
There felt like there was no point in showing Yeun’s childhood co-star’s face at the amusement park, except for generic and tired shock factor; among other baseless character motivations, like the movie director who showed up to help them.
Maybe I just didn’t get it. Maybe it just wasn’t for me, because critics are touting it as Peele’s best movie yet, and yet, to me it feels like his worst.