Movie Review: “Get Out” (R)
As “Get Out” opens, we’re introduced to happy couple Chris Washington and Rose Armitage (played, respectively, by Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams). Their courtship is still in the early stages, and all is great in the world, but Chris is a bit on edge when he discovers that Rose wants to take him home for the weekend to meet her parents. The thing is, Chris is black and Rose is white, and her parents aren’t aware of his skin color. Rose suggests that this is but a tiny insignificant detail and that it wont matter to mom and dad whatsoever. Of course, we as audience members damn well know better. We know that if this were truly the case, we wouldn’t have a movie.
When Chris and Rose do eventually arrive at the beautiful Armitage home, they are both greeted with open arms by Rose’s proud and successful parents, Dean and Missy (played by Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener). Almost immediately, Chris’ mind is put at ease through the comfort of his soul mate’s loving family, but shortly thereafter, strange happenings at the Armitage abode lead an inquisitive Chris to realize that things may not be what they seem.
Clearly, “Get Out” is a genre film steeped in timely subtext. Like George A. Romero’s legendary “Night of the Living Dead” and Rusty Cundieff’s underappreciated “Tales From the Hood” before it, “Get Out” deals with racism. But this movie doesn’t deal with this particular theme in a blatant, obvious way. “Get Out” explores the kind of prejudice that hides behind fake smiles and artificial hospitality. But for all its relevant social commentary, “Get Out” is really worth noting because it’s a damn entertaining thriller! It fires on all cylinders! This thing is tremendously entertaining in all the ways a great thriller should be. Furthermore, “Get Out” is punctuated by bursts of absolute hilarity.
One might be surprised to learn that “Get Out” is the feature directorial debut of the great Jordan Peele, but if you’ve seen this talented individual’s work on the extremely popular “Key and Peele” comedy sketch series, you know that this movie really wasn’t that much of a leap for this talented funnyman. Peele is a fanboy at heart, and his love of film in general is joyfully on display throughout “Get Out.”
But this doesn’t feel like a ripoff of any one specific movie. No, this is a love letter to the many subtext-laced genre films that have inspired Peele throughout his life. What’s more, this skilled storyteller is fully aware that there’s a fine line between what terrifies us and makes us laugh. “Get Out” will have you jumping out of your seat during one moment and laughing your ass off during the next.
The cast is outstanding right across the board. Kaluuya (“Sicario”) is charming, likable, and heroic as an everyman thrust into quite a sinister ordeal while Williams is equally effective as his tough and outspoken girlfriend. Whitford and Keener are absolute gold as Rose’s parents, bringing humor and the creep factor in equal measure. Supporting players Marcus Henderson and Betty Gabriel are fantastic as a somewhat mysterious pair of individuals who perform various duties around the Armitage home while an absolutely hilarious Milton “LilRel” Howery hits all the right notes as Chris’ seemingly all-knowing buddy, Rod.
It says a lot about Peele’s natural likability and pure skill as a storyteller that “Get Out” comes across as a scary, funny, joyful, thrilling experience, even when it’s clear that the outer shell of this picture is being used to house a pretty serious issue. It’s all done in a hyper-real way of course, but that’s what helps make for a truly memorable genre movie. Peele has the same sort of vibrant, colorful, fanboy-infused spirit that makes the works of Edgar Wright and crew so appealing. And in case you’re wondering, yes, that’s a big-time compliment. “Get Out” is an absolute blast of a thriller, and I can’t wait to see it again.