Published Sept. 8, 2022
By FLINT NACHBAR
Visionary director Jordan Peele’s new film “Nope’’ hit theaters July 22 to an excited audience after the success of Peele’s first two films, “Get Out” (2017) and “Us” (2019), which both received widespread critical acclaim, but upon first viewing of Peele’s newest film, many audience members may be leaving with more questions than answers.
“Nope” centers on a brother-sister duo, OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer), as they struggle to maintain their father’s (Keith David) horse training business and manage the strange occurrences that happen on the ranch.
It is established early on that these occurrences are caused by an alien-like UFO creature, leaving the audience to believe that the film will center on the two protagonists working together to fend off the UFO in typical sci-fi thriller fashion, but the movie takes an unexpected turn when the main character decide to capture the UFO on camera, exploiting it for a profit.
Ricky Park, or Jupe (Steven Yuen), who owns a Western-themed theme park called Jupiter’s Claim, located on a piece of land that neighbors the Haywoods’ ranch, also discovers the unidentified flying object, but instead of trying to capture an image of the mysterious creature, he attempts to make a profit off of it in a different way.
Greed is a big theme throughout Peele’s film. Both the Haywoods and Jupe attempt to control an untamed and foriegn alien species for financial gain.
This raises a question: How far will people go to obtain brief recognition and fame? While this question is clearly presented throughout the film, other aspects are left unclear and under-developed, one of which comes in the form of a homicidal monkey.
The film dives into Jupe’s dark past as a former child actor on the show “Gordy’s Home,” a sitcom about a family and their pet ape, Gordy, who acts alongside the human actors. A horrible incident occurs one day on set when Gordy turns aggressive, mauling the whole cast save for Ricky, who lives to tell the tale.
This subplot of the film is the most intriguing storyline present, yet it is hardly touched on. Although there was not very much development on the “Gordy’s Home” incident, it is apparent that it ties back to the theme of humans exploiting wild animals for financial gain, whether that animal is an alien creature or an ape forced into the film industry.
After the climax of the film, the ending is abrupt and uninspired, leaving audience members with a lot of questions about the underlying meanings of the events on screen. Although this cliffhanger is typical of Peele, it makes “Nope” feel almost unresolved.
Hidden meanings and beautiful cinematography is not enough to mask unclear plot points and a disappointing ending.