Key (Keegan-Michael Key) and Peele (Jordan Peele) went down the exit ramp of their sketch show juggernaut into feature length movie making with the ridiculous “mistaken identity” comedy Keanu, that’s essentially catnip for cat memes.
Heartbroken movie geek Rell (Peele) is stuck crying at home after a break-up and nothing that his preppy, George Michael loving, cousin Clarence (Key) does seems to jolt him out of it. Out of the blue an adorable kitten, that he names Keanu, bounds to Rell’s door and he finds a reason to live again. His happiness is fleeting though; drug dealer Cheddar (Method Man) steals the furry bundle which just happened to belong to another big-time murdered drug cartel, but not before stealing the hearts of wraith like assassins Oil (Peele) and Smoke Dresden (Key). Imagine Smokin’ Aces but expect instead of assassination, the target is to possess the world’s most adorable kitty.
Keanu, in a lot of ways, feels like its taking that innate sense of timing in Peele and co-writer Alex Rubens sketch sized premises and stretching them like a queen sized sheet on a king sized bed. And it’s difficult to explain, but when you’re in the moment the jokes seem to make it beyond played out to the other side and become hilarious. There’s this weird feeling that you get as you’re watching the film that either Key and Peele’s natural energy and charisma have an ability to keep you looking at the film; or that one or a few of the filmmakers made bargains with demons to keep you in a state of “Sponge Bob Squarepants” level of stupefaction.
Director Peter Atencio has a low fi budget but John Woo (Mission Impossible 2) aspirations for his escalating action. They have a lot of fun completely subverting the black guy “tough guy” archetype with team building coach and sweater wearing Clarence Key, and some time photographer Rell (Peele) who have to ‘gansta’ up in order to get in front of Cheddar to rescue Keanu. Tiffany Haddish, Method Man, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Jason Mitchell, Jamar Malachi Neighbors, Luis Guzmán, Will Forte, Rob Huebel and Nia Long are like a fleet of Toyotas; reliably doing what they’ve gotta do with the script without ever really standing out.
Keanu is much like the ravenous cat loving Internet audience that one assumes is going to eat this up. Once it’s done, if it wasn’t in your iTunes rental receipts you may forget it altogether.
Blake Howard – follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman
Directed by: Peter Atencio
Written by: Jordan Peele & Alex Rubens
Jordan Peele … Rell Williams / Oil Dresden
Keegan-Michael Key … Clarence Goobril / Smoke Dresden
Tiffany Haddish … Hi-C
Method Man … Cheddar
Darrell Britt-Gibson … Trunk
Jason Mitchell … Bud
Jamar Malachi Neighbors … Stitches
Luis Guzmán … Bacon
Will Forte … Hulka
Nia Long … Hannah
Rob Huebel … Spencer