'Get Out' Offers Sharp Satire Along With The Scares Get Out is an impressively accomplished directorial debut says NPR film critic Bob Mondello.
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'Get Out' Offers Sharp Satire Along With The Scares

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'Get Out' Offers Sharp Satire Along With The Scares

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Movie Reviews

'Get Out' Offers Sharp Satire Along With The Scares

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

When Jordan Peele was half of the sketch comedy duo "Key & Peele" - the shorter half - he was always on the lookout for distinctive ways to tackle ethnic stereotyping and race. Now in his film directing debut, Peele has stepped behind the camera to make a horror movie that is also a social satire. It's called "Get Out." Critic Bob Mondello says audiences will be clamoring to get in.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: As Chris is packing to accompany his girlfriend, Rose, to her parent's country house for the first time, she has lots of questions.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GET OUT")

ALLISON WILLIAMS: (As Rose Armitage) You've got your toothbrush.

DANIEL KALUUYA: (As Chris Washington) Check.

WILLIAMS: (As Rose Armitage) Do you have your deodorant?

KALUUYA: (As Chris Washington) Check.

WILLIAMS: (As Rose Armitage) Do you have your cozy clothes?

KALUUYA: (As Chris Washington) Got that.

MONDELLO: He has just one.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GET OUT")

KALUUYA: (As Chris Washington) Do they know I'm black?

WILLIAMS: (As Rose Armitage) Should they?

KALUUYA: (As Chris Washington) You might want to, you know...

WILLIAMS: (As Rose Armitage) Mom and Dad, my black boyfriend will be coming up this weekend. I just don't want you to be shocked that he's a black man.

MONDELLO: Her dad, she tells him, will take him aside to say he'd have voted Obama for a third term. And indeed her folks welcome Chris with open arms even if at times they seem to be trying too hard.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GET OUT")

BRADLEY WHITFORD: (As Dean Armitage) So how long has this been going on, this thang?

MONDELLO: Chris laughs off that thang as well as later references to Jesse Owens and Tiger Woods. He figures dad's trying to make him feel comfortable, though it's having the opposite effect. Other guests at what turns out to be a big family gathering are also welcoming though in a way even Rose has to concede is a little much.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GET OUT")

KALUUYA: (As Chris Washington) Hey, how you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: (As character) So how handsome is he?

MONDELLO: This is accompanied by a sampling-the-merchandise-type squeeze of his biceps.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GET OUT")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: (As character) Not bad. So is it true?

MONDELLO: And now she looks at Rose.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GET OUT")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: (As character) Is it better?

KALUUYA: (As Chris Washington) Wow, wow.

MONDELLO: Chris decides to let Rose deal while he tries not to be paranoid about the fact that the family's oddly robotic maid and gardener are virtually the only black folks around - well, not the only. There's one guy, but when Chris introduces himself...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GET OUT")

LAKEITH STANFIELD: (As Andrew Logan King) Chris was just telling me how he felt much more comfortable with my being here.

MONDELLO: This outwardly calm guy kind of goes ballistic.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GET OUT")

STANFIELD: (As Andrew Logan King) Get out.

KALUUYA: (As Chris Washington) Sorry, man.

STANFIELD: (As Andrew Logan King) Get out.

KALUUYA: (As Chris Washington) Yo...

MONDELLO: Jordan Peele has made a career of subverting genre expectations to comic effect. Here, he's not going for laughs - or at least not always going for laughs. But he clearly knows well the horror movie tropes he's undercutting, the one where, say, black characters always seem to be the first to die or where it's a pale, white woman who slowly realizes something about her surroundings is terribly wrong.

As a writer and a remarkably accomplished first-time director, Peele layers other notions on top as he's inverting those about servitude, about social privilege, about law enforcement and "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner"-style liberals.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GET OUT")

TREY BURVANT: (As Officer Ryan) Sir, can I see your license, please?

WILLIAMS: (As Rose Armitage) He wasn't driving.

BURVANT: (As Officer Ryan) I didn't ask who was driving. I asked to see his ID.

WILLIAMS: (As Rose Armitage) You don't have to give him your ID because you haven't done anything wrong.

MONDELLO: Before long, Chris's paranoia starts to seem downright understated. Why is Rose's dad talking about black mold in the basement? What is it about that spoon stirring tea that feels so alarming? Should it bother us that the cleaning lady spends so much time smiling at her reflection in the mirror?

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GET OUT")

BETTY GABRIEL: (As Georgina) No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

MONDELLO: Actually, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. "Get Out" is more a very smart satire with scares than a full-on horror movie. But if it makes you think while it's making you jump, there's much to be said for that. The film's tone may be light, but its take on race feels true, which in this day and age is kind of scary. I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF JAYLIB SONG, "RED - INSTRUMENTAL")

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