Keanu

'Keanu' movie poster

Release: Friday, April 29, 2016

[Theater]

Written by: Jordan Peele; Alex Rubens

Directed by: Peter Atencio

The Cat in the Hat. Garfield. Sylvester. Mewtwo. Mr. Bigglesworth. Shere Khan. These are but a few of the world’s most famous felines. You can go ahead and add Keanu to this prestigious list, because he’s the best thing about a full-length movie that’s kinda-sorta-but-not-really-at-all about him.

The mischievous duo behind Comedy Central’s Key and Peele find themselves comfortably making the transition to the big screen, but unfortunately they’ve missed an opportunity to make a memorable entrance in this painfully hit-and-miss comedy that sees two schlubs turning thug under some seriously contrived circumstances. I suppose, yeah, you could say they were under duress, but . . .

The (mis)adventure begins when a kitten shows up on Rell (Peele)’s doorstep. He has traveled from afar, barely escaping with the fur on his back from a violent confrontation at a drug processing facility deep in the city. Rell, reeling after a bad break-up, takes an immediate liking to the cat and believes it will help him feel better. He names his new friend Keanu. Meanwhile, his uptight cousin Clarence (Key) is seeing his wife off for a weekend getaway with a mutual friend played by the always untrustworthy Rob Huebel.

Unbeknownst to them, the cat actually belongs to a powerful thug named Cheddar (Method Man) to whom the notorious Allentown boys — the ones involved in the aforementioned firefight and who are also played by Key and Peele — are indebted as they track down the precious fur-ball. The Allentown boys are bloodthirsty goons straight out of a Rob Zombie nightmare and will stop at nothing until they get what they’re after. These freaks are the shameless beneficiaries of Abby O’Sullivan’s fantastic costuming and make-up.

Rell takes Clarence to see the new Liam Neeson movie to try and get Clarence out of his house and to spend some “bro time,” as was suggested by his wife. They get back only to find Rell’s place has been ransacked and Keanu’s missing. Rell’s next-door neighbor/weed guy Hulka (Will Forte, sporting some awesome dreads) of course didn’t see nothin’. The hunt for Keanu eventually leads the cousins into Cheddar’s lair, a blown-out night club poignantly christened HPV, where they also find the cat, now repping a gold chain and black doo-rag. Rell, barely able to hide his outrage over the kitten-napping, snaps and declares he and Clarence are the Allentown boys and that they’d be willing to do one favor for Cheddar in exchange for ownership of the cat.

And so the rest of the film is just allowed to happen . . . somehow. It’s a parody of the Gangster Experience that flits between cringe-worthy and chuckle-inducing, its many farcical developments amounting to a parlay of good fortune that simply endures too long. And it’s so not about the cat, either. Keanu’s closer to a meowing macguffin than a functional character in a plot designed to bait animal rights activists into protesting the comedic duo’s next event. (Fear not: no animals were harmed during the making of this film.)

It’s not as if Key and Peele was the most reliable source of saucy satire but when it was good, it could really strike a nerve. In the feature film setting, however, their inconsistency is magnified tenfold and there are some very bare patches as the writers milk the faux-gangster premise for all its worth. The scene at Anna Faris‘ house drags on for what feels like an eternity as we’re forced to watch Rell (now operating under his thug alias ‘Tectonic’) and Clarence (a.k.a. ‘Shark Tank’) bluff their way through the drug deal they agreed to.

There are moments where their deadpan charm pierces like the sun through the thick clouds of uninspired writing — Key and Peele themselves aren’t the problem with their movie. In fact it’s their camaraderie that is able to pull us through Keanu‘s least compelling moments, and why I enjoyed it more than I probably should have.

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 8.04.58 PM

Recommendation: Keanu mirrors the hit-and-miss nature of Key and Peele. Although there is a caveat to that: devoted fans are likely to not take as much issue as those who are less familiar with their schtick. That said, the premise as a whole still feels like a wasted opportunity to do something memorable with an animal that’s not only this photogenic but well-trained. This cat has a bright acting future ahead of him. 

Rated: R

Running Time: 100 mins.

Quoted: “We’re in the market for a gangster pet.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com

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19 thoughts on “Keanu

  1. Ha ha, the posters for this movie are awesome. Key and Peele haven’t had the same impact over this side of the pond but am hoping we’ll get to we this. From what I’ve seen of them, they are one of the funnier double acts out there.

    • Yeah they’ve done a great job with the marketing with this. It also ties in to a great running joke throughout the film. I haven’t seen all of their work but they’re 50/50 for me. When they’re good, they’re spot-on but when they’re off they’re way awkward, and in this movie the latter happens quite a lot. Still it wasn’t enough to totally ruin the thing for me. 🙂

    • Yeah I just didn’t think it was all that great. This to me was the epitome of hit-and-miss comedy. Then again, the hits were really on the money.

  2. “a meowing macguffin ” had me snigger, hehe. I have never heard of Key and Peele, I guess that’s an American show? The poster (and title) confused me at first, I thought it was going to be some sort of Matrix parody!

  3. Nice review Tom. I’m a huge fan of Key and Peele and found Keanu to be hilarious. It does feel a bit stretched out at the end but I can’t remember the last time I saw a movie this funny.

    • Yeah the amount of mileage one gets out of the movie depends on how much they got along with the show. I thought the show was OK, some skits are much better than others. When these guys are off though it’s painful to watch. But that’s just me. I’m usually wrong about things

  4. I really wanted to see this, but had decided against it. You’ve solidified that decision. I’ve spent too much money this year on movies I could have gone without seeing and this sounds like another one of them.

    • Might be the right call Tim. It’s a decent one to pay maybe half price for (my local theater does $6 tuesdays, which is when I saw it), but better to wait for a rental maybe. There are parts here that dragggggg. But the duo do successfully make for likable characters on the big screen at least. And the cat is a badass

  5. I have to believe that they have better written screenplays to unleash out to the world, and perhaps just wanted to get something out as a litmus test to the silver screen.

    This was…fine. I did laugh a fair deal as time went on (starts pretty slow for me) and is ultimately passable, but pales in comparison to their most successful sketches.

    • Fair enough to call this movie a litmus test. I like that actualy. Keanu shows a promising future for them but I think the writing needs to improve. I liked and loathed this movie in almost equal measure, I’m surprised I didn’t end up going with that split-pie rating haha

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