Release Date: April 29th, 2016
Studio: New Line Cinema and Principato-Young Entertainment
Director: Peter Atencio
Release Format: Theatrical
For those that know the comedy duo of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele from their hit show Key & Peele, you know that they are able to keep the laughs coming. Even when they are bringing serious social commentary to light, these two always manage to combine those issues with great jokes. Their latest escapade, Keanu, allows them to reach even more of an audience through the big screen.
Key and Peele are some of the best for this “buddy-style” movie, as they have already been working together for so many years on Comedy Central. Their ability to bounce humor off of each other makes the whole thing feel more natural and believable, even in its most ridiculous moments. However, there are downsides to bringing this kind of sketch humor to a longer film, specifically when it comes to the jokes becoming repetitive. Keanu did have a few of these kinds of jokes. While the length of the film may have caused some stale moments, Key and Peele manage to bring the audience back effectively throughout each scene, giving testament to the brilliant comedy style they have embraced in their careers.
The premise of Keanu is simple enough. It’s basically a combination of a buddy movie and a really long series of cat videos – which, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good cat video? Rell (Peele), a brokenhearted stoner, calls on his cousin Clarence (Key) to help him through his breakup, but Rell soon finds an adorable kitten standing on his very doorstep. However, it seems that Rell is not the only one who wants to keep the kitten, as his place gets broken into and Keanu is taken. Clarence and Rell then find out a local gang called the Blips have the cat, and the two set out to get him back. They pretend to be local gangsters known as the “Allentown Brothers,” and help the Blips out in order to gain the trust of their leader, a man named Cheddar (Method Man). Only then will Rell have a chance of getting his kitten back.
As always with Key and Peele, the humor reflects a larger look at society. In this case, it is mostly about race, as Clarence and Rell each try to find the more “gangster” side of themselves. Some of the most humorous moments in the film come from these jokes about the two being more middle class, such as when they stumble into a dangerous bar and try to fit in. Rell turns to Clarence and says, “You sound like Richard Pryor doing an impression of a white guy.” And the general banter that Key and Peele have developed over the years of working together really helps to drive the jokes further.
Both Key and Peele sell this movie. While the other actors and actresses involved also do quite well in each of their roles, it is this comedic duo that captures the audiences’ attention. Key and Peele have practiced playing countless different characters for their show, and it is evident in the way they flawlessly handle their characters in Keanu. The two even step into the roles of the ruthless Allentown brothers for parts of the film and portray those characters effectively as well. And of course, the exceptionally cute kitten helps in making this movie entertaining to watch.
The cinematography for this film was quality, although nothing stands out. Most of the shots were pretty standard, even in action sequences like car chases and gun fights. However, the fact that the camera work doesn’t stand out too much is promising for Keanu. This movie is focused on the comedy, on the dynamic duo that is Key and Peele. Anything too drastic might distract the audience from being immersed in the film, even as some parts might be particularly dragging or slow. The cinematography was just what it needed to be for this comedy, in my opinion.
One aspect of this film that fell by the wayside was the story. While the humor was great throughout most of it, the plot of Keanu really just served as a way to reach the different jokes. It’s not like I was expecting too much from the story for this movie. Watching the brief trailer alone gives a pretty clear indication that this film was not meant to be anything deep or emotional. However, the story did end up a bit left behind in some parts, leaving Key and Peele to keep the interest of their audience themselves. There were a number of predictable moments for the story line, including how the film was going to turn out for the two main protagonists. The witty jokes are what keeps this film afloat, that’s for sure. All I can say is that it’s a good thing Key and Peele are really entertaining to watch.
One of my favorite little moments was when Clarence and Rell are driving back from seeing a movie, and talking about how much they enjoyed the “Liam Neeson’s” film. Key and Peele have a running gag they used to do on Comedy Central that regularly brought up Neeson, and Neeson was even a part of a sketch they did one time. Little moments like this made me appreciate Keanu that much more because it showed me that Key and Peele were still appreciating their fans even though they are working in a different medium now.
Overall, Keanu is a pretty funny film, with lots of little moments that make it stand out from other comedies. Although the general plot and camera work were not anything too impressive, the comedic chemistry that Key and Peele share makes the movie worth seeing, especially if you are a fan of these two already.
- Characters: Each character is included with plot development and comedic purposes in mind. Clarence and Rell grow throughout the movie as the main protagonists.
- Cinematography: Pretty standard for the most part, with a few interesting action sequences. Well done all around.
- Story: The storyline can be stale and predictable in moments. It mainly serves as a catalyst to allow Key and Peele to deliver their brand of humor.
- Acting: While Keanu the cat may be the adorable face for this film, the real stars are Key and Peele. The two shine in their roles and completely stand out from the rest of the cast.
- Clever humor
- Team of Key and Peele is perfect in their roles
- Some good action sequences
- Story not as strong as comedic bits
- Can be predictable and stale