US – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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There are so many things to love about writer-director Jordan Peele’s second film, Us, and one of the most delicious is how it opens: with a positively early-Spielbergian flourish of childhood wonder smothered by sad reality. Little Adelaide (Madison Curry), who is perhaps seven or eight years old, is at a magical seaside amusement park, except with her parents: an indifferent dad and a mom frustrated and distracted by him. So she wanders off. And as a thunderstorm is ominously brewing in the twilit sky — and as maybe something ominous is drawing her? — she meanders alone into the creepy and deserted Shaman’s Vision Quest funhouse… where she will endure a terrifying encounter with a very unexpected figure.

Everything after that is… let’s call it post-80s-Spielbergian. Almost literally: that opening segment takes place in 1986, while the rest of the film — with occasional brief flashbacks — is set today. Us could be seen, in the sense that it is partly about the lingering aftereffects of childhood trauma, as a reply to early-Spielberg fantasies: How did the kids from The Goonies or E.T. grow up, and how did their experiences impact their lives? Continue reading…

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MaryAnn Johanson

MaryAnn Johanson is a freelance writer on film, TV, DVD, and pop culture from New York City and now based in London. She is the webmaster and sole critic at FlickFilosopher.com, which debuted in 1997 and is now one of the most popular, most respected, and longest-running movie-related sites on the Internet. Her film reviews also appear in a variety of alternative-weekly newspapers across the U.S. Johanson is one of only a few film critics who is a member of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (the Webby organization), an invitation-only, 500-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities. She is also a member of the Online Film Critics Society. She has appeared as a cultural commentator on BBC Radio, LBC-London, and on local radio programs across North America, and she served as a judge at the first Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film Festival at the 2003 I-Con, the largest SF convention on the East Coast. She is the author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride, and is an award-winning screenwriter. Read Johanson's recent articles below. For her AWFJ.org archive, type "MaryAnn Johanson" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).