By nearly all accounts, Get Out, Jordan Peele's directorial debut, is a smashing success.
Made on an indie budget of less than $5 million, the film, a thriller where the trope of the well-meaning white liberal takes on a terrifying dimension, just became the first debut film from a black writer-director to break the $100 million mark at the box office.
But when I had the pleasure of taking in the movie this weekend, its one glaring flaw became so obvious that I burst out laughing the first time it graced the screen.
[MAJOR SPOILERS CONTAINED HEREAFTER. BEWARE IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE YET.]
Protagonist Chris, played by Daniel Kaluuya, gets his first hard evidence that something is amiss in the house when he finds his Windows phone left purposefully unplugged by the eery housekeeper Georgina. The scene culminates in an awful lot of attention being paid to his Microsoft phone (and charger.)
When Chris' best friend, a TSA agent named Rod, starts investigating whether his buddy has been turned into a brainwashed sex slave, he turns to his Windows Surface Pro. There wasn't anything too amiss about this. Some people do use those, I'm told!
But then he opens up a window to do a search on Bing.
I laughed out loud.
That's how utterly I was taken out of an otherwise tense part of the movie by the appearance of Bing, the forgotten stepchild of the search engine world. "Person uses Bing" is unrealistic even for a horror movie about a bunch of rich white people carrying out an ongoing plot to abduct and lobotomize black people for a lifetime of service.
It happened again during an even more critical plot point.
After it's revealed that Chris has been duped by his seemingly-loving white girlfriend (played by Allison Williams) in her plan, Rose lovingly turns to her Surface Pro to research her next black male conquest. She opens a window on Bing to Google (to Bing??? I'm out of my depth here) "top NCAA prospects.”
This was another moment of unintentional levity.
I was far from alone. Plenty of viewers have tweeted about how egregious the Microsoft product placement was.
Product placement is an age-old reality in the film world, one can be a big boon to funding and marketing smaller or independent releases). At its best, the appearance of branded products lends authenticity and a sense of seamlessness between the story world and our own.
But for a movie as good as Get Out, the Microsoft saturation was a distraction rather than a storytelling aid. Hopefully after proving himself as a bankable filmmaker, Peele will be able to leave that sponsored content feeling behind.