The United States has always been susceptible to inescapable disasters. We are still recovering from when the World Trade Center was attacked. We are still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. We are also still recovering from “Hands Across America.” Yeah, that “happy, lively” event advertised through cheesy commercials in truth left a nasty effect on Us. Don’t believe that accusation? Jordan Peele proves so with his newest instant-classic.
Before analyzing its brilliance, here comes a little “tough love” on the film’s poor screenplay, which is packed with coincidences. Several laughs come from the father in a Marvel fashion—that being, inappropriate comic relief thrown into serious moments. There are a couple other slightly offensive jokes that a few audience members could deem pretty dumb. It’s not just the inconsistent humor though that hinders the script’s addressed questions to our existential crisis, but too many crucial details don’t go into enough depth to make sense out of the situations; that particularly goes to the antagonists: doppelgangers of people named “shadows” who call themselves “Americans.” Where did they originally come from? It doesn’t quite explain.
In the world of regular people, little modes of affect upon the mother’s terror don’t reach their intended impact, mostly the frequent use of a man brandishing Jeremiah 11:11 on a handheld sign. It’s not clear how someone trying to play the role of a prophet isn’t warning of an upcoming tragedy that will tear the nation further apart against itself. The role of the media could particularly have been used from that free motif’s advantage to do something besides oppress our progression, but the media instead creates a poor picture of itself to raise our self-esteem, as if it’s reflecting back on those Watergate days of corrupt news outlets.
Okay, enough negativity, everything else about Jordan Peele’s new work of art projects the same disruptive power of Heaven’s Gate. The opening text informs of how North America sits above derelict underground tunnels, some without any known use, leading into a very slow dolly in at a cheerful “Hands Across America” ad on an old TV. Then comes a fearful flashback to justify the mom/protagonist’s trauma, who wanders onto the lightning-lit beach, until stuck in a maze of mirrors after the exit sign. Now, she fears Santa Cruz as her memory is overlapped by buzzing carnival music. Then the opening credits dolly out of a red, furry eye to reveal rabbits caged up to an ominous children’s choir. With the haunting intro to a true experience done with, it sparks back your permanent effects from the nation’s roller coaster history, as if any optimism the 1980s gave to counteract the 1950s-1970s has now dissipated.
The new millennium has already been no stranger to calamity, hence why we must ask ourselves, “What do we have to anticipate in the 2020’s?” Easy: A new decade, a new culture, a whole new set of expectations based on the failures of the 2010’s. The kids in this feature portray that answer, as the son, Jason, mask and magic trick in hand, finds trouble concentrating, but not as much as his sister, Zora, who stays on her phone at all times. This look of submission that the Gen Alpha characters fall victim to turns them susceptible to danger.
The mystery remains subtle enough to make Martin Scorsese proud. At first, a traumatized little girl lines up sandbox toys, then once inside a long, bleak square hallway, why she lines those toys up makes perfect sense.
It displays the media spelling out our doom based on the sound mixers’ perfect song usage. It takes little cheap trends, particularly one stick figure family focused on before the real family, to impress upon our flatness. Frustration through Dad’s humor represents humanity’s whole insecurity comparable to whenever religious groups call hurricane tragedies, “God’s wrath.” Using creepy daylight imagery of a large-scale cult, a wonderful thing turns into something scary, much like how a hurricane turns a bright, tropical vacation into death flooding around at every block.
Yet that metaphorical hurricane was actually a record-breaking fundraiser originally intended to raise up to 100 million for poverty in Africa, but only made 15 million in bank. That’s why it’s high-time Jordan Peele tells the hard truth: despite Hands Across America, “Nobody cares about the end of the world.” That’s why we need to remember that the people’s mindset tops priority over money raised; together, palm in palm, observing our commonalities, so not to relive our shortcomings. It’s incredible how Peele’s hot streak thus far can be either simply enjoyed by the typical moviegoer or thoroughly analyzed by the cinema artists, carrying a deceptive amount of heart in the process of the hilarity and screams. Give this horror film a chance, then you for certain will want to do your part in removing the traps that separate us.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Klein, Christopher. “Remembering Hands Across America.” History. Tempest, 25 May 2016. Web. <https://www.history.com/news/remembering-hands-across-america>.
Squires, John. “The 10 Films Jordan Peele Had Lupita Nyong’o Watch Before Filming ‘Us’ Included ‘Martyrs’.” Digital image. Bloody Disgusting. Complex, 26 Dec 2018. Web. <https://bloody-disgusting.com/movie/3539483/10-films-jordan-peele-lupita-nyongo-watch-filming-us-included-martyrs/>.
Us. Publisher. Powster. <https://www.usmovie.com/>.