Jordan Peele Takes “Us” for a Ride

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 BY Anthony Del Vecchio

Asst. A&E Editor

Comedian and Filmmaker Jordan Peele’s second film, “Us,” premiered last week on March 22 and has since grossed over $70 million domestically and over $128 million worldwide. 

For his sophomore film, Peele took over as director, producer, and writer. He brings back “Get Out” producers Jason Blum and Sean McKittrick and brings in cinematographer, Mike Gioulakis, whose resume includes “It Follows” and M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split” and “Glass.”

After seeing the film and looking at reviews, it seems that something must be clearly stated: this film is not the same as “Get Out.” It’s no repeat, nor even an attempt at one.

Peele’s unique style puts us somewhere in between his Oscar-winning horror film and a modern family comedy, which for better or worse is an interesting idea and mixture of genres.

He also grapples with some serious, existential ideas like dealing with ourselves and who we truly are as people, while also commenting on American life, race, and privilege, most notably.

In one word, this film is ambitious and gives the audience something they were not expecting going in, and something entirely different to think about walking out.

Performance-wise, the stars of “Us” shined, each putting on some exceptional acts.

Lupita Nyong’o adds to her already impressive filmography, and Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecker all do well as the funnier characters, but they aren’t expanded on past that.

 Shahadi Wright Joseph, the voice of Young Nala in Disney’s upcoming “Lion King” remake, and Evan Alex, the youngest, both get some well-deserved exposure as promising talent on the rise.

The whole cast performs well, not only as the actual characters, but also as their doppelgängers, or “shadows.” – each actor really played two roles. 

 “Us” is exceptionally shot and written, with a twist that demands a second viewing. There is so much substance in the film that some things will probably go over your head and others will just be too much to absorb.

With so much happening, you pick up more seeing it again, realizing how different this film is. I like to picture “Us” as a beautiful dart board.

Intricately crafted with expert design, the board is ready for Peele to play. He’s good and holds a lot of interesting ideas, in this case darts, and each dart is a concept, topic, or question. 

It is artsy and expansive, yet funny and constrained. It is without-a-doubt an interesting experience.

Peele throws all of them at the board and many darts hit the bullseye. However, many others miss and hit places we didn’t see coming. This is what makes “Us” so interesting but also not as well-rounded as his last film, which is something everyone will need to move past.

I personally feel some of the comedy, though well-written, was poorly placed. In multiple scenes, it made the horrifying and scary situations less scary, and in turn made me take the film not as seriously.

That is, of course, because I went in thinking this film would have a much darker and more serious tone, worthy of another Oscar. I do not think that this will be the case.

However, twice now Peele has confidently shown us what he can do as a filmmaker. He is showing us that he is going to do things a different way – his way.

That’s why it might not make sense to us, because that’s how he made it. I’m not sure if he even knew what he wanted, but I know it was a lot to handle. That’s what I thought his intentions were from interviews prior to the release. After seeing it myself, I feel like he goes too far trying to express a message and winds up sacrificing a solid story.

Many questions go unanswered in the film. We as viewers like to know everything that is going on, but Peele does not give us that satisfaction, which I also believe is him speaking to a larger point, on life itself.

I commend Jordan Peele for this very interesting work of art. If he’s looking for another Oscar nod, I think “Us” can earn a nomination or two, but it is just not of that same winning caliber. 

I would personally give the film a rating of 6/10. Though ambitious, I feel like Jordan Peele is only just starting to hone his talent as filmmaker and there is better work to come.

“Us” currently stands with a 94% for critic reviews, a 70% for user ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, and a rating of 7.4/10 on Imdb.

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