Keanu is being praised as one of the best comedies of the decade, and while that may be a little overblown, the movie is certainly very funny. This marks the first time Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele (of the appropriately titled Comedy Central show Key and Peele) have been the driving force behind a movie. Peele co-wrote the script and his influence is everywhere. Like the best Key & Peele sketches, Keanu rides that weird line between poignant social commentary and purely absurd comedy.
Peele plays Rell, a stoner photographer who can’t find the energy to get off his couch since his girlfriend left him. One night Keanu, a kitten, shows up at his doorstep. Well, has no idea that the kitten used to belong to a drug lord and is currently the prize in a battle for turf between rival gangs, so he adopts him and instantly falls in love.
Key plays Clarence, an corporate counselor, who’s own wife thinks he needs to loosen up. His wife and step-daughter are away on vacation and he is tasked with doing something purely for himself over the weekend.
Rell and Clarence go to the movies together and return to Rell’s apartment to find that Keanu has been kitten-napped. A wacky neighbor (played by Will Forte) tells the pair that their kitten was taken by a gang called The Blips, so Rell and Clarence head off to infiltrate the Blips and get Keanu back.
Of course, there is plenty of hi jinx born from the fact that these two characters are about as far removed from being gangsta as you can imagine. It’s the small things that really make Keanu pop. For instance, you will learn very quickly that Keegan Michael Key has one of the most expressive faces in Hollywood. His giant eyes and jaw drop punctuate a number of scenes.
We live in a time where so many comedies replace jokes with celebrity cameos. It’s almost as if studios are counting on your sense of nostalgia or memories of past joy to make up for the fact that some movies just aren’t that funny (see Zoolander 2). Keanu actually uses two celebrity cameos very well. I don’t want to give away who they are, or what they are doing, but you will never look at “one of the coolest chicks in Hollywood” the same way again.
This seems like as good a time as any to review the cats responsible for the role of Keanu. Sorry to break the Hollywood magic, but it was indeed a team of cats that played the titular character, and that totally makes sense. Keanu’s meow is cute. His facial expressions are cute. Even his run is cute. No one cat should be able to do every single thing this adorably.
There’s a lot to like about Keanu. It’s a solid B amongst comedies and, of course, it sets itself up for a sequel. That’s cool. I’d go see the next entry in this series, but that’s largely because I want to see what Keegen Michael Key and Jordan Peele decide to do next.
Their Comedy Central show drew a larger-than-cult following, so they are hot commodities in Hollywood. Their first movie is good. Now if it is a hit too, they may be able to command the creative control to do whatever they want next, and rumor has it that the next thing they want to do is reboot the Police Academy franchise.
Demetri Ravanos is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association and has reviewed movies for Raleigh and Company, Military1.com and The Alan Kabel Radio Network. He can be heard weekday mornings from 6-10 on "The Morning Show with Mike, Lauren and Demetri" on Buzz Sports Radio.