MOVIE BUFF-ET: Smart, satiric script lifts “Get Out” from B-movie roots

Universal Pictures

“Get Out” is a B movie with an A-level script that bites with its satire and kills with its off-kilter humor.

The film is from the mind of Jordan Peele, best known for his Comedy Central sketch-comedy program Key & Peele with Keegan-Michael Key. Peel wrote, directed, and was one of the producers on the film that is as strong of a directorial debut in recent memory. The film is sharp, funny, and has me eagerly anticipating his follow-up effort.

The idea for the movie likely began as a sketch for Peele’s TV show, but the layers and complexity of the satiric horror-thriller smacks of genius. Peele honed the script for five years before production began, and his work shows. Peele said in an Entertainment Weekly interview that he wanted to make a film that begged to be watched more than once. He accomplished that goal.

Peele has also commented that a white director probably couldn’t get away with making the film. He is absolutely right about that.

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“Get Out” is a bold movie that doesn’t even bother with condemning overt racism, but rather dissects the mostly unintentional prejudices minorities are confronted by on a daily basis.

The film’s prologue, an homage to John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and Wes Craven’s “Scream,” sets the tone for the horror that’s coming as a black man becomes afraid while walking through a “white” suburban neighborhood. The material here could be played for laughs, but it turns out to be deadly serious. Flipping the script, here catches one’s attention and sets up the mayhem that ensues.

From there the plot will first remind you of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” before it stokes memories of early 1970s horror flicks like “The Stepford Wives” and “The Thing with Two Heads.”

While those movies and others informed the writing of the film, Peele’s work is far more effective in driving home its point of how subtle racism still infests even the most liberal corners of our society. Peele accomplishes this by knowing the horror genre inside and out, and effectively using on it in bold and subtle ways to drive home his point.

Daniel Kaluuya stars as Chris, a Brooklyn photographer, who has agreed to a weekend trip to the country to meet the parents of his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams). Rose tells Chris that her parents Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener) Armitage are unaware that he’s black when asked, but she assures Chris that they won’t have a problem with their interracial relationship.

At first, that seems to be the case, but circumstances turn from uncomfortable to weird and then to downright sinister during their stay. The first tip off to Chris that something is up is the odd demeanor of Walter the groundskeeper (LaKeith Stanfield) and Georgina the maid (Betty Gabriel), both of whom are black. Telling much more would spoil the fun.

Kaluuya is excellent in the role of the boyfriend, and Whitford and Keener are sharp playing twists on their usual on-screen personas. Williams, co-star of HBO’s “Girls,” throws a curve ball performance that was eye opening. Lil Rey Howery adds a dose of common sense and levity to the film as Chris’ best friend Rod, a TSA agent, who gives a voice to the audience in the movie.

“Get Out” is a film that might be too audacious for some to appreciate, and its subtext might be too serious for some to enjoy. Certain scenes no doubt will offend or embarrass, while others might provoke a tinge of guilt. But, that is exactly what Peele was aiming for.

Grade: A

Classic Corner

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” might seem a bit quaint today, but when the film was released in 1968 that was not the case.

The movie was shot just three years after the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and released just months before the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther on April 4, 1968.

So a film centered on the introduction of a black fiancé to the family of a young white woman was not only topical but also controversial. Director Stanley Kramer deftly mined the subject matter in this winning comedic drama that boasts an outstanding cast with Oscar winners Sidney Poitier, Katherine Hepburn, and Spencer Tracy headlining. Hepuburn’s niece Katherine Houghton plays Joey the daughter of Hepburn and Tracy with Poitier portraying her fiancé.

Beyond tackling a difficult subject matter the movie is significant as the ninth and final pairing of Hepburn and Tracy on film. Tracy was very ill while filming the movie and died just six weeks after finishing his final scenes, about six months before the film was released.

Hepburn, who had a 26-year affair with Tracy, wrote in her autobiography that she never watched the movie, believing the experience would be too painful.