It was a comedic tragedy when Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele’s sketch show, “Key & Peele” ended last year. In a lot of ways, “Keanu” is a testament to their comedic chops. What could have easily turned into a long-winded, and possibly pointless, version of their show was mined for gold by the comedy duo. Making their feature debut together, “Keanu” is smart and funny, with just enough plot and just enough crazy (not to mention the cutest cat to come along in a film in awhile) to make it a highly entertaining movie.
Paired with their love of action flicks (“The Matrix” and “Edge of Tomorrow” among them), cousins Rell (Peele) and Clarence (Key) are fairly straight-laced guys, geeking out over the latest Liam Neeson movie and listening to George Michael on repeat. Rell, however, is left depressed and blindsided after his girlfriend dumps him, but begins to recover after a stray kitten, which he names Keanu, shows up on his doorstep.
Growing highly attached, Rell is devastated when his house is raided for drugs and Keanu is kidnapped. Finding out that the burglars were after his drug dealer, Hulka (Will Forte), Rell and Clarence quickly find themselves in over their heads when they have to blend in with Cheddar’s (Method Man) drug-dealing crew (Tiffany Haddish, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Jason Mitchell, Jamar Malachi Neighbors) and make a deal to sell the new drug, aptly titled “Holy Shit,” in exchange for Keanu.
The film rests largely on the easy chemistry that has always been present between Key and Peele. The fact that they play such nice guys makes the scenario even more entertaining once they enter thug territory. The deepening of their voices and change in behavior when they’re hanging out with Method Man’s crew is at once over-the-top and cause for several laughs. And since the pair are both action aficionados, Keanu Reeves’ cameo (done as a voice-over in a trippy drug scene), is right on point. This is especially true since the kitten is not only named after Reeves, but the plot also draws from the actor’s action film, “John Wick.”
“Keanu” drifts a bit in the middle due to a couple of drawn out scenes, but this doesn’t deter the film from being a laugh-out-loud comedy in the slightest. Key and Peele deliver on all fronts and there are also some fun twists and turns that keep the movie from falling off the grid. There’s plenty of action to go along with the comedy and, for the most part, it’s all pretty well-balanced. Keanu the kitten is lovable and, while everyone is trying to get him back, is purely unaffected by the craziness surrounding him. And if all these gun-toting people are so quick to fawn over a cat, then it’s no surprise that we do as well. “Keanu” is basically the best of Key and Peele, and if this is what we always have to look forward to in their films, then the future is bright.
Funny, smart, and full of action, "Keanu" is basically the best of Key and Peele, and if this is what we always have to look forward to in their films, then the future is bright.