— by Jeff Schultz

Jordan Peele’s thriller has striking performances going for it. But the movie is also slow, even draggy until the final third when the action kicks in. Fortunately there are golden nuggets throughout from five actors you can’t get enough of: Standup comic LilRel Howery takes the “best friend” role and runs to the finish line with it, literally: just about the very last line is his, and it gets the biggest laugh in the theater. Betty Gabriel’s zombie-like housekeeper is as much crazy fun throughout as her scene in the film’s trailer. (“Oh no, no no no no no no no no no no no.”) In a similarly oddball way, the automatous Lakeith Stanfield, especially his camera flash freakout. Bradley Whitford, looking and sounding like the late Dennis Hopper, finds the knife edge between affable and menacing as Dad. And Catherine Keener improves any movie she’s in; here, as Mom, she’s literally mesmerizing. The setup seems to be a satire of white attitudes toward blacks right out of a “Key and Peele” sketch. But at the end, one line from a character played by Steven Root (who is always good to see) seems to make race irrelevant. Other aspects of the plot’s windup also left me confused. But then, Stormy had to explain “Westworld” to me.

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