Comedy duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have built up an impressive CV for themselves. From their sketch show Key and Peele to appearances in Fargo as well as numerous seasons on MADtv, the pair are doing pretty well.
Now the all-acting and all-writing funny men have taken their skills to the big screen for their first feature length film Keanu. Possessing a ludicrous concept, two severely underdog leads, and one simply irresistible kitten, the pair’s first outing is a lot of fun.
When Rell (Peele), is suddenly dumped by his girlfriend he cannot imagine a future without her, until he opens his door and finds the world’s cutest kitten, which he names Keanu. His cousin Clarence (Key), watches as he heals through his relationship with Keanu but when Rell’s house is mistaken for his neighbour drug dealers, Keanu is taken. Now the pair have to infiltrate the local gangster gang in order to retrieve their lost kitten. But can two normal guys play it gangster and rescue Keanu from gang leader Cheddar?
For their feature outing the comedy duo re-teamed with their Key and Peele sketch show director Peter Atencio. Keanu was initially reported as being a spoof on Keanu Reeves and his last feature film John Wick. Despite being untrue when the film was in production, Reeves contacted the producers to offer his services and has a small (and weird) cameo in the film.
The plot of Keanu is barmy. It is never presented at anything but and this complete lack of sense or rules is part of what makes it so fun. The pair never think risking their lives to retrieve a kitten is weird and the lengths all involved go too to acquire him is hilarious.
The film keeps a good pace, from the drug mule opening right up to the gun fighting finale. Rell and Clarence are dragged along for the ride with poor Keanu passed around as the world’s coolest gangster pet.
The humour in the film is a mixture of styles, with the majority hitting the mark despite a few duds. Visually you have a kitten placed in numerous scenarios from gun fights to making a film themed calendar (which you can actually buy). The films leads are clueless to the ways of the street and a stark contrast to their straight laced selves creates a witty juxtapostion. The film also offers playful references throughout, from Clarence’s obsession with George Michael to the name of Cheddar’s gang, The 17th Street Blips (all rejected from the Bloods and the Crips).
Yet this is not just about gangsters, let’s not forget that there is a kitten present. A kitten who is seen in a personalised playhouse as well as in a bandanna and medallion necklace.
What never falters in the film, despite a simple story and a few flat jokes, is the cast. The chemistry between duo Key and Peele holds the film together. Both possesses great comedy timing and bounce off one another brilliantly. There is great support here, given from Method Man as hard talking gangster leader Cheddar and Tiffany Haddish also adds to the cast as hard talking gang member Hi-C.
What could have been a cat-astrophe (only one cat pun, give me that), turns in to a funny outing for Key and Peele. Not the most original concept but the jokes hit the mark, the cast are terrific, and Keanu really is the cutest kitten.
KEANU IS OUT 15th JULY