This will be the weekend that’s remembered, by some of us at least, for the Academy Awards presentation during which the Best Picture winner was wrongly announced. And what a mess it was, with people scurrying around the stage, clearly signaling a major error before the clarifying announcements were made.
But it will also be remembered by some film fans as the weekend when a horror film, “Get Out,” opened with a seemingly perfect 100% rating on the review aggregation website RottenTomatoes.com (RT). RT track hundreds of reviewers in publications of all types and maintains the “Tomatometer” which reflects the percentage of reviewers giving positive reviews. But it’s also a largely misunderstood or only partially referenced source.
Reviewers can indicate themselves whether their reviews are intended to be positive or negative overall, but they also score the movies on a scale out of 10 (sometimes adapted from their own 4 and 5 star scales). So, in addition to the RT percentage score, there’s also an averaged score out of 10 for all of the reviews being tracked. And whereas “Get Out” does have a 100% positive rating, which is extraordinarily rare, it’s also rated at 8.3/10. That’s a solid score, but it’s more of a B-/B rating than the 100% positive rating alone would imply. Still, that’s amazing for any film, let alone a somewhat comedic horror film, to return no negative reviews.
Compare that, for example, with tonight’s ultimate Best Picture winner, “Moonlight.” “Moonlight” maintained an almost equally amazing percentage of 98%, from more than twice as many reviewers, and yielded an average of 9/10. So it’s a film a very small number of people disliked, with the remaining average running closer to an A grade. And that’s what wins awards.
“Get Out” really is quite fun. It’s like somebody threw “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” into a blender with assorted “Stepford” and pod-person themes. Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) thinks he’s just meeting his girlfriend’s parents for the first time, but it turns into a bigger weekend affair, filled with rich white people making awkward comments about race and a scant few black people who don’t seem quite normal. Something’s clearly not right and much of the fun is in guessing just what’s going on, albeit not so much fun for the beleaguered Chris.
It’s an interesting film that’s also being discussed in various ways in its approach to race. And a full discussion of that topic would reveal too much about the plot – but it would be an interesting post-movie dinner topic to debate whether it’s racist, not racist, about racists, satirizing racism, etc. Or perhaps some intentional combination of all of those things at once.
It’s also not hard to see why so many people enjoyed it, despite still being remarkable that nobody didn’t. It’s structured and written in such a way that you always tend to know when something’s about to happen, as with many films of this genre, but writer/director Jordan Peele (“Key and Peele”) still manages to keep exactly what’s going to happen a bit of a surprise. In that sense it’s more amusingly creepy, as it escalates, than suspensefully scary – which probably lands it a home alongside films such as “Shawn of the Dead” as a future “horromedy” cult classic.
Also opening this weekend is “Collide,” an equally light rendition of a fast-driving action film, starring Nicholas Hoult (“About a Boy,” “X-Men: First Class,” “Warm Bodies”) as a guy who escapes the shady underworld to make his girlfriend happy, only to re-enter it to make her well (she needs a kidney transplant). It’s an easy film for somebody like me to enjoy, simply because it has some decent driving sequences, with real fast cars being driven, fast, by real people. And that seems to be its reason for existing.
To put it in perspective in the same terms as above, it’s a film that has barely been reviewed and has only a 19% positive rating from that small reviewing pool, with a 3.9/10 average score. And the few reviewers who liked it, liked it for its breezy lightweight fun factor.
And if we stay with the theme of what makes things memorable, “Collide” may be remembered for putting Ben Kingsley and Anthony Hopkins into two of their most “Do they ever turn down a role?” performances to date. But watching these two greats hamming it up against each other, as equally deranged sociopathic villains, is fun enough to perhaps explain why they took the parts. Which makes you wonder who said yes first. It’s also not going to be a film that’s strongly featured on Felicity Jones’ career highlight reel.
All in all, a fun film weekend and one that’s likely to be remembered by film fans, albeit for odd reasons.