Cat people can relate.
Recently dumped by his girlfriend and without much of a reason to live, Rell (Jordan Peele) seems to spend most of his days crying, smoking a ton of pot and not even attempting to get over his ex. His cousin Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key), on the other hand, seems to be just fine with his life, where he’s got a wife (Nia Long) that loves him and a daughter that is fine enough with him, too. Eventually though, Rell finds some happiness when a cute kitten winds up on his doorstep and he starts to grow closer and closer to it, forging a loving and adoring friendship in which Rell learns about love all over again. But somehow, his cat, who he names “Keanu”, gets stolen by a band of thieves, which leaves Rell and Clarence with nothing else to do other than go out there and search for it. After all, Clarence’s wife and daughter are gone for the weekend, so what else are they going to do for the next few days? When the two do eventually find Keanu, they realize that he’s under the ownership of a notorious and dangerous drug-dealer by the name of Cheddar (Method Man) who mistakes them for two bad-ass, evil gun-slingers. Eventually, the two go along with it long enough to where they’re taking up new identities and getting involved with all sorts of crime, all for the sake of getting Keanu when all is said and done.
A lot of people will get on the case of Keanu because it’s not nearly as funny, or as smart as everything that Key & Peele have done. Sure, that’s already a lot to live up to in the first place, but you’d think that with literally the same team behind this one, that the same line of hilarity and genius would be drawn and would just add to the overall spectacle of this movie and make us realize why them letting their show end was such a smart move in the first place. But no, that’s not what happens.
And you know what? That’s actually fine.
Because, for what it’s worth, Keanu doesn’t set the comedy world on fire, nor does it need to. Sure, Key and Peele have been way funnier and smarter before, but with Keanu, it seems like their sole purpose is to attack a full-feature length, big-budget flick, see what works, see what doesn’t, move on, and continue doing what they do best. If you look at Keanu as a practice-round for both Key and Peele, then yes, it’s a very impressive one, because it’s not just a pretty funny movie, but one that has a thing or two to actually say about race.
But then again, maybe not. Maybe Key and Peele just wanted to make a funny comedy, not try to be too serious, or try to get preachy, and instead, just make the audience laugh at what they’re setting out to do. If that was their goal, then yes, mission accomplished because Keanu, for a good portion of itself, does a lot of funny things. Scenes where it just seems like Key, Peele and the rest of the cast are just making stuff up as they go along, with little rhyme or reason, surprisingly works and adds a bit of a fun flair to Keanu that may not have been too present in the first few minutes. What could have been a very annoying hour-and-a-half movie of a bunch of people riffing off one another because they don’t have much of a script to work with, surprisingly works when you least expect it to.
Sure, the idea that these two characters are playing-up the whole “gangster” look and feel may get a tad old for some, but it didn’t for me.
I don’t know what this says about me – either I really like comedy aimed at making fun at the whole “gangster” lifestyle, or I was just in a good mood – but regardless, Keanu is a funny movie. It’s hard to really go on and on about a comedy movie that sets out to do something, delivers on that promise and doesn’t ask for you to remember tomorrow, next week, or ever. All that it wants from you is to enjoy it and laugh at it while you can. Take away all of the things we know and love Key and Peele for from their show, and you won’t be hitting yourself over the head by how Keanu is just a fine, if pretty funny movie.
The movie may try to parody John Wick to some extent, but doesn’t really get that far, or seem all that interested in addressing that idea, just like it doesn’t know what it wants to say about the gangster lifestyle and the people that live or die by it. In fact, you may be surprised by the attention to heart and detail the movie puts into its smaller characters, in which every member of this “gang”, all have their own little backstories and personalities that eventually come into play later on, and it helps make this movie seem like so much more than just your average comedy.
Even if, yes, it totally is.
But that’s okay. Key and Peele are fine and smart enough to know that if they don’t strike gold here, they still have plenty of opportunities to do so in the near-future. As actors here, they both do fine; Peele plays up his slacker-bro, whereas Key has some of the funnier moments as the stiff who turns out to be the most hardcore and sinister of the two when he has to. It’s ordinary roles for these two guys and just like the movie, they’re all fine with it. They’re just here to make us laugh and that’s fine.
Maybe next time, however, try a tad harder, fellas.
Consensus: Despite not reaching the comedic heights their show was able to hit episode-after-episode, Keanu still features an assured, if funny piece of comedy from the minds of Key and Peele, that may play more as an experiment, rather than a fully completed piece. But still, that cat is cute as hell.
7.5 / 10