Log In

Reset Password

At The Movies: Just say ‘Nope’

Summer is a great time for looking at clouds. You lay back, perhaps on a blanket in the grass, and watch shape-shifters in the sky.

In “Nope,” Otis Jr. “OJ” Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya) gazes at clouds at his father’s Haywood’s Hollywood Horses Ranch in the Santa Clarita Valley, in southern California.

One sunny day, his father Otis (Keith David) falls off the white stallion he is riding, struck dead by debris falling from the clouds. An airplane is blamed.

To that theory, Otis junior says, “Nope.”

After Otis junior and his sister, Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer), and the horse they brought to a movie studio for a TV commercial are fired, they look for a way to make money to keep the ranch going.

Otis is increasingly suspicious of strange goings-on at the ranch. Lights flicker. The electricity goes off and on. The horses are skittish. Otis junior says he’s sighted a UFO up in the clouds.

Otis and Emerald devise a scheme to strike it rich, inspired by Ricky “Jupe” Park (Steven Yuen), a former child actor who runs Jupiter’s Claim, a nearby Wild West theme park.

In a subplot, shown in flashbacks, Ricky was traumatized as a child actor when he witnessed a trained chimpanzee going berserk and killing actors on the set of the TV show he’s on.

Otis and Emerald decide to go “Oprah.” They want to get the “money shot” of the UFO and sell the images to a TV show.

They purchase surveillance cameras at a local electronics store. The tech salesman Angel Torres (Brandon Perea) installs the equipment at the ranch and becomes their ally.

They set up an elaborate if silly ruse that involves the inflatable colorful tube men you see at a car dealers’ lots. The hope is to lure the UFO.

They convince a cinematographer, Anglers Holst (Michael Wincott), to be at the ranch to film the UFO, and they hope, the aliens inside.

To say any more would spoil the movie for you. Nope, I won’t do it.

“Nope” is exemplary for clearly-defined characters, terse dialogue (except for motormouth Emerald), concise closeups of lead characters and expansive vistas (think “The Power of the Dog,” 2021).

Writer-director Jordan Peele (Oscar recipient, original screenplay, “Get Out,” 2017, which he also directed; writer-director “Us,” 2019) creates believable characters, scenes and action in “Nope,” one of the best movies of 2022.

Jordan Peele wrote the screenplay for the “Candyman” (2021) remake. Tony Todd, who portrays Candyman, stars in August Wilson’s “Fences” at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, DeSales University, through Aug. 7.

Look for multiple Oscar nominations, including for Jordan Peele, Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer.

Daniel Kaluuya (Oscar recipient, supporting actor, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” 2021; “Get Out”; “Black Panther,” 2018) projects an iconoclast accustomed to hoping for the best, but planning for the worst. His screen presence is riveting.

Keke Palmer (Emmy recipient, actress, “Turnt Up with the Taylors,” 2020; “Hustlers,” 2019; “Akeelah and the Bee,” 2006; “Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion,” 2006) is amazing as a person with differences, whose frequent vaping doesn’t seem to calm her.

Steven Yeun (Oscar actor nominee, “Minari,” 2020) is sympathetic as a person scarred by childhood trauma.

Brandon Perea is crazy good as the store clerk who wants to help, whether they want it or not.

In a cameo, Donna Mills plays Bonnie Clayton in a TV commercial.

The cinematography by Director of Photography Hoyte Van Hoytema (“Tenet,” 2020; “Interstellar,” 2019; “Ad Astra,” 2019; Oscar nominee, cinematography, “Dunkirk,” 2017) is extraordinary.

The Production Design by Ruth De Jong extends to the hilarious and creepy Jupiter’s Claim amusement park.

Editor Nicholas Monsour (“Us,” Emmy nominee, “Key and Peele,” 2012) provides excellent transitions.

Michael Abels (Composer, “Us,” “Get Out”; Emmy nominee, theme, composition, “Allen v Farrow,” 2021) uses strings thrillingly to heighten the film’s tension).

“Nope” is one of the most invigorating summer movie releases of 2022 or any summer. It has the charm of “Goonies” (1985) the unexpected thrills of “The Blair Witch Project” (1999) and the movie insider sense of “Once Upon a Time in ... Hollywood” (2019).

“Nope,” though billed as a horror film (It has a few jump cuts.) is more of a science-fiction film, mystery and character study. Whatever it is, it’s great film-making.

Just say, “Yup” to “Nope.” Don’t miss it.


MPAA rated R (Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.) for language throughout and some violence, bloody images; Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery, Horror; Run time: 2 hours, 10 minutes. Distributed by Universal Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous:

The film opens with the Biblical quote, “Nahum 3:6: I will cast abominable filth upon you, make you vile, and make you a spectacle.” The numbers 613 are referenced. I will let interpretations up to Jewish scholars. A mitzvah for anyone who knows.

Stay to the very end of “Nope” to see a title card advertisement for Jupiter’s Claim, that states: “Come ride through Jupiter’s Claim at Universal Studio as seen in Nope.” The Jupiter’s Claim set was added to Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour. It’s the first time a Studio Tour attraction opened on the day of a movie release, according to a Universal Studios press release. It’s on the back lot with other movie sets, including Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds,” Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” house and Robert Zemeckis’ “Back to the Future” Courthouse Square.

“Nope” locations included Firestone Ranch, Santa Clarita, Calif., Fry’s Electronics, Burbank, Calif., the latter closed in 2021.

The chimpanzee character, Gordy, is Computer Generated Imagery, based on motion-capture actor Terry Notary.

The characters in “Nope” are written as the descendants of the Black jockey in Eadweard Muybridge’s “The Horse in Motion,” said to be the first moving picture.

At The Movies:

“Nope“ was seen in the IMAX at AMC. The movie was filmed with IMAX 65 mm cameras. The film could be seen in the Dolby at AMC or the standard format.

Theatrical Domestic Movie Box Office,

July 29 - 31: “DC League of Super-Pets,” the animated feature film featuring the voices of Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, opened at No. 1 with $23 million in 4,314 theaters, ending the No. 1 one-week run of “Nope,” which dropped one place to No. 2, with $18.5 million, in 3,807 theaters, $80.5 million, two weeks.

3. “Thor: Love and Thunder” dropped one place, $13 million, in 3,650 theaters, $301.5 million, four weeks. 4. “Minions: The Rise of Gru” dropped one place, $10.8 million, in 3,579 theaters; $320.4 million, five weeks. 5. “Top Gun: Maverick” stayed in place, $8.2 million, in 3,008 theaters, $650.1 million, 10 weeks. 6. “Where the Crawdads Sing” dropped two places, $7.5 million, in 3,526 theaters; $53.5 million, three weeks. 7. “Elvis” dropped one place, $5.8 million, in 2,901 theaters; $129 million, six weeks. 8. “The Black Phone” stayed in place, $2.4 million, in 1,638 theaters; $83.1 million, six weeks. 9. “Jurassic World Dominion” stayed in place, $2 million, in 1,747 theaters, $369.4 million, eight weeks. 10. “Vengeance,” opening, $1.7 million, in 998 theaters.

Box office information from Box Office Mojo as of July 31 is subject to change.


Aug. 5:

“Bullet Train,”

R: David Leitch directs Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Michael Shannon, Zazie Beetz, Karen Fukuhara and Bad Bunny in the Action Thriller. Five assassins are on a bullet train.

“Bodies Bodies Bodies,”

R: Halina Rijn directs Amanda Stenberg, Maria Bakalova and Rachel Sennott in the Comedy Horror Thriller. A party game turns deadly at a family mansion.

“Easter Sunday,”

PG-13: Jay Chandrasekhar directs Jo Koy and Lydia Gaston in the Comedy. An Easter Sunday gathering is based on Jo Koy’s stand-up comedy.

“I Love My Dad,”

R: James Morosini directs Patton Oswalt and himself in the comedy. A father tries to reconnect with his son.

Movie opening dates information as of July 31 from Internet Movie Database is subject to change.

Four Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

CONTRIBUTED IMAGE: UNIVERSAL PICTURES Daniel Kaluuya (Otis Jr. “OJ” Haywood), “Nope.”