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Review: Us

Lupita Nyong’o stars in Universal Pictures' US

Jordan Peele surprised most of us when we got to see Get Out back in 2017. It was the kind of movie that we don’t really get to see these days, plus it was created by a guy known for his comedic ventures. After we witnessed what he was capable of, I think most of us opened our minds and became interested in what he had planned for the future. That’s why his movie Us, intrigued people as we wanted to see if he could create another distinct feature film with the ability to entertain the masses.

Lupita Nyong’o takes the lead role as Adelaide Wilson, a woman returning to her beachside childhood home now with a young family of her own. From a distance, it looks like the kind of summer getaway plenty of people dream of having. That’s all they could ask for, but the time in the sun for the Wilsons goes from idyllic to dangerous once four strangers with bad intentions come to meet them at their vacation home.

When analyzing a film in order to dissect and write about it, you have to really look at the good and bad of everything that you’re offered. When you’re simply viewing it as someone who is just watching a movie, you can just sit back and maybe look past any potential issues that may arise. I think that’s where plenty of people can be divided when looking at a film like Us. As for me, I’m unable to ignore such things here. That’s especially true when you add that this came from a person who hit that proverbial “homerun” in his first time out as a writer/director.

Even if you choose to look past the myriad of flaws that it has, Us is nothing more than a typical horror movie at its core. This, of course, creates more of the same types of problems, because you often times have lapses in common sense and logic in movies from this genre. While that’s a bad thing when judging a movie for its quality, this is also why I believe plenty of people can enjoy this particular picture. For the general public, Us could give them the feeling of watching an average horror movie mainly because that’s exactly what it is when you look beyond all of the extra stuff that Peele tries to tack on.

Although I’m going to essentially compare Us to Get Out at times throughout this review, I refused to do so before actually watching it. I wanted this to stand on its own and figured it probably wouldn’t be as good as Jordan Peele’s first foray into directing. This allowed me to go in with a clear head and see it for what it was. After doing that, I’m still not comparing it in terms of subject matter since it’s completely different, but I’m analyzing it based on Peele’s skill as a writer and director.

Based on his previous film, I knew he at least had the ability to do something special. That was basically the only thing I had in mind as it gave me a reason to be optimistic ahead of time. Unfortunately, my sense of optimism didn’t pay off since the movie wasn’t able to succeed in places where I believe it could have.

Us fails where Get Out succeeds because the detail, nuance, and sense of reasoning that’s showcased in the latter are virtually non-existent in the former. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to make a movie that can be considered high valued art. In removing that here, we’re not left with much. I’d say that we’re only left with a basic scary movie that probably shouldn’t be receiving an incredible amount of fanfare.

Another thing that gets in the way of this succeeding comes from the structure. Through most of Us, Peele never really gives us a hint as to what’s actually going on. We can see what’s taking place, but we never have a genuine clue as to why any of it is happening until much later in the film. When we do finally get that information, it’s mostly giving to us through exposition and only in maybe a scene or two.

It would have been nice to have at least a sliver of real information given to us in the first or second act. That would have allowed us to connect with the characters that we’re asked to follow even if we aren’t able to put it all together. A part of me understands why we didn’t get more information earlier though. If we did, the movie would have started to fall apart faster than it does.

While the added info strips away any credible logic Us may have had, the big twist that we end up getting in here also takes it down another notch or two. I’m assuming that we all expected a twist of some sort, but I won’t ruin it for you. I’ll just say that it made a movie that didn’t make much sense make even less sense once it’s revealed. In reality, it didn’t even really need to be included since it doesn’t change much as far as the overall story is concerned. I’m guessing Peele added it because he felt he needed a twist. Outside of that, it’s useless and unnecessary.

After you watch it, I suggest not putting too much thought into all that you’ve seen if you enjoyed it more than I did. I say that because Us is the kind of movie that will make less and less sense the more you think about it. A lot of the blemishes and imperfections are obvious while you’re sitting through it, but you’ll easily find many more when going over it again in your head. That’s the most disappointing part of this whole thing. Based on what we know Peele can do, this should have better.

There are things to enjoy here (including some of the acting), but this should have been so much more. When weighing everything together, Us is unable to overcome all the negatives that permeate through it even though I believe it can still entertain people. Just don’t go in expecting a masterpiece or a piece of cinema that will be as impactful as Peele’s previous film. If you go in with that mindset, you might be able to take pleasure in what you get out of it.

Rating: R

Director: Jordan Peele

Lupita Nyong’o
Winston Duke
Elisabeth Moss
Tim Heidecker
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
Anna Diop
Evan Alex
Shahadi Wright Joseph
Madison Curry
Cali Sheldon
Noelle Sheldon

Film Length: 121 minutes

Release Date: March 22, 2019

Distributor: Universal Pictures

  • 5/10
    Score - 5/10
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