By Chris Campo
I have always been a big fan of Key & Peele. It's easily one of the funniest shows of the past decade and the two stars, Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele, are, without a doubt, two of the funniest men working today. I was both excited for and nervous about their first feature film, Keanu. The trailer had a few laughs, but nothing stood out as gut busting. It didn't make this film a must see. Luckily, and to my surprise, the team behind Key & Peele have crafted one damn funny film.
Keanu follows two cousins, Rell (Jordan Peele), and Clarence (Keegan Michael Key). One day, a mysterious kitten ends up at Rell's door and peps him up after a heart breaking break up. One weekend later, the cat, named Keanu, is stolen. To get Keanu back, Clarence and Rell fall down a crime rabbit hole as they infiltrate a local gang. Yes, this is obviously a light spoof of the Keanu Reeves film John Wick, but much suprise to me, the story easily stands on its own.
This film is funny. No, this is absolutely hysterical. There are some gags that flop, but I was consistently laughing from start to finish. The film's humor ranges from clever dialogue to outrageous gags to hilarious film references. Lots and lots of film references. It's an action film fan's dream. There are great cameos throughout, but there's one from an actress who's sort of irrelevant today, they play on that breifly, and the scene went on way too long. Keanu, however, does have the single funniest drug trip sequence ever, set to the soothing sounds of George Michael.
I think it's obvious that Key and Peele have terrific chemistry on screen. They absolutely kill it here. They're the beating heart of this film and they absolutely nail it, watching them is so, so fun. Most of the supporting cast are good, too. Method Man plays the leader of the gang they infiltrate and he was definitely a highlight, and his goons that Key and Peele befriend are a great cast of outrageous characters. Some characters are over the top, like Will Forte's character, but nothing seems too out of place given the tone of this film.
The kitten is not just a crutch for jokes, or some kind of Mcguffin, but is instead the centrepiece of the movie. The writers do a good job at setting up this story and you genuinely get connected to it. There's heart in this film, you feel the connection to the cat and you want the cousins to succeed. There's hero moments, some funny, some genuinely crowd pleasing. The only problem with the script is the fact that the writers don't bother explaining a lot of things. Many moments early on in the film don't make sense towards the end and vice versa.
This is not necessarily an action packed film, but there is a handful of action set pieces. Some work, some dont. The opening scene is insane and bloody and sets the tone for the film perfectly, whereas the third set piece seems tacked on and goes on for a few minutes too long. Plus, some characters suddenly do things that the film hasn't established, which isn't a big deal given that this film doesn't take itself very seriously, but it did bother me a bit.
Keanu is a nugget of comedy gold that made me laugh hard at a consistent rate. Sure, the third act may have some unnecessary action and not everything makes sense, but Key and Peele have a bright cinematic life ahead of them. And holy shit, that cat is the cutest thing I have ever seen.
3 1/2 Stars