‘Us’ Movie Review: Jordan Peele Makes America See Us Through Lupita Nyong’o

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At this point, you have either saw Jordan Peele’s latest movie “Us,” accidentally read a spoiler on a friend’s Facebook status or read a professional review out of curiosity.

Peele’s dynamic, thought-provoking, gut-checker earned well over $70 million dollars in the box office during its opening weekend, kicking Captain Marvel out of the top spot for the first time since its premiere.

I’m not going to lie to you, I only went to see “Us” as a fan of Peele’s directorial debut “Get Out.”

Much like purchasing your favorite rapper’s sophomore album, you don’t expect much, but you want to support, then you’re pleasantly surprised and happy that you bought it once you get to the last track.

Yup, my conclusion for “Us” was just like that. Peele awoken another percentage of the human brain that’s lingered with moviegoers for decades.

Disclaimer: Will try not to give too many spoilers, but there will be some, so here we go.

“Us” stars Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke from “Black Panther,” Elizabeth Moss from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Shahadi Wright Joseph and upcoming actor Evan Alex.

Lupita Nyong’o courtesy of Instagram.com/lupitanyongo

The two-hour psychological thriller takes place in Santa Cruz, California, where Nyong’o’s character Adelaide Wilson takes her A-typical American family to their summer home after her mother died.

As an African-Caribbean American watching this film in an all-white theatre, I’m smiling inside as the people next to me are either giggling or are emotionless.

To me, the Wilson family are a normal working class African-American family. Peele even cast each character with similar skin tones, something most productions get wrong off the bat.

Yet, no matter how many of us in the real world earn degrees, pursue a career path and marry before having kids, this image is not your normal Hollywood portrayal of an African-American family.

I loved the Wilsons already. And my lonely giggles in the theatre were at Duke’s character Gabe Wilson in his Howard University sweatshirt. I won’t spoil you on why he had me cracking up while the other moviegoers next to me were silent.

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The theme for movies in 2019 seems to center around women-leading roles. Most people will walk out of “Us” with that conclusion and that’s fine, but let’s tap into that extra percentage. In “Us” Adelaide becomes the shero and saves her family and just her family from their terrorist doppelganger. 

This film, like “Get Out,” is littered with dozens of hidden messages from the music to the clothes. Overall, it was an excellent film and I have to watch it maybe two more times to get a fuller understanding.  

To me, for now, the crux of the movie was the most subtle mention of Adelaide’s mother. 

In 1986, when Adelaide was a little girl she wandered off from her parents while they were at a boardwalk carnival in Santa Cruz. During this moment, Peele was bringing attention to the fact that, Caucasian children aren’t the only ones that go missing.

via GIPHY

As little Adelaide continues to wander on in the beach while holding a bright red candy apple —  a sugar-coated piece of an ingredient to America’s favorite dessert — she never takes a bite.

At some point, a hall of mirrors attraction catches her attention, she drops the treat that lands in the sand and goes inside. Her innocence is gone, we later learn little Adelaide is completely gone.

Once she’s found, her parents take her to therapy to “try and get” their little girl back.

Therapy, a form of medicine society — or Tyler Perry movies, whoever you want to point the finger at — likes to say African-Americans don’t go to, we go to church or write off a mute child without treatment. But, I digress.

Fast forward, Adelaide is grown up, married with two children, a boy and a girl and still vacations to Santa Cruz with her mom until her death. No real mention of what happened to Adelaide’s father, but her parents seemed rocky in the 80s.

We can assume Adelaide and Gabe have been married for all-over 15 years, yet this particular year, he learns about that 1986 summer.

Adelaide’s instincts about her alternate self kicked in after her mother died, the hierarchy change triggered her inner self. She is now momma bear.

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What saddens me is the frustration of always taking responsibility and not having the luxury of being a damsel in distress. Women always have to operate on 1000. Trust me, we don’t always want to be like this, we want to trust that the men in our life will take on a role or responsibility and not f–k it up.

Even Adelaide stepped aside and gave Gabe his moment to shine as she cowered with her babies. What happened? Gabe got injured and Adelaide had to jump in to save the day.

Their daughter Zora Wilson witnessed her mom spring into action, she went in swinging — literally — and jumped in the driver’s seat — literally.

Gabe’s focus was mostly on trying to keep up with the Jones’ who were Moss’ family the Tylers. The Tylers were also an A typical American family,  except one movie maker saw as appealing for decades.

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The Tylers seemed to have it all, bigger boat, upgraded home and a backup generator. Gabe wanted the best for his family like the Tylers and gladly sat on their throne moments after their departure. This is one of the reasons Gabe made me giggle, I felt sorry for him.

Their son, Jason Wilson, while he was the baby, he had some form of a disability, maybe autism, it wasn’t totally clear. But, Adelaide worried more about Jason than Zora to the point I didn’t remember the daughter’s name, but remembered the son.

Which could be another reminder by Peele for us women to remember our men.

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