“Keanu” Movie Review

That was, hands down, the cutest kitten EVER! Released worldwide on April 29th, this zany action comedy starring comedy duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele has broke even in the box office compared to its $15 million budget. Following the success of their titular sketch comedy show on Comedy Central, Key and Peele prove themselves to essentially be the modern-day incarnations of Abbot and Costello. In this film, Rell, a down-on-his-luck man who has just been dumped by his girlfriend, adopts a stray tabby cat and names him Keanu. I would also name my cat the exact same thing. His cousin Clarence agrees to go out on a fun weekend while the his wife and daughter are out of town with a family friend. One night, they come home from a Liam Neeson action movie to find Rell’s house has been ransacked and Keanu is gone. After aqquiring information from Rell’s drug dealer Hulka, Rell and Clarence decide to infiltrate a street gang known as the 17th Street Blips, led by a ruthless man named Cheddar, in order to steal their cat back. Sounds a little formulaic, but we’ll see what happens. For example, Sisters is not a great movie, but there were many moments in there when I was laughing really hard. It was dumb and predictable, but still made me laugh. Same with Keanu; you can see where it’s going, but is plotted out by a consistently hilarious screenplay. To start off, Key and Peele have great, practically seamless chemistry, despite their contrasts. Key brings such a great amount of energy to his role, at some points feeling like he eclipses his partner-in-crime. But Peele, despite his rather quiet demeanor, gets his own stand out moments of glory. Seeing the two of them bicker back and forth is entertaining enough, yet it’s also their interactions with the other members of the Blips that had me nearly falling off of my seat. In one particular instance, Clarence, Bud, Trunk, and Stitches are waiting in a car during a drug deal. When they start playing George Michael songs, Clarence overcomes their skepticism by stating “This my shit right here!” And before long, they all start singing together and sharing each other’s personal stories. Method Man from the Wu Tang Clan plays the gang leader Cheddar, who really doesn’t like his business or life getting messed with. He plays the role up, you can tell he has fun with it, and gave a great performance. As I said in the intro, Keanu is the cutest onscreen kitten I have seen to date. Even when some of the jokes don’t quite land as well as they should, he steals all of the attention. Perhaps the funniest part of the movie for me was when Clarence was in a drug-induced episode, and the titular kitten was voiced by Keanu Reeves himself, parodying the Matrix trilogy. One of the most unique aspects of Key Peele is that their comedy manages to highlight many of the facets of race in America. The two of them impersonating black street thugs was hilarious because you get the idea that they’d never pass as thugs at all, ever. But it also shows the disturbing side to it as these are “White-sounding Black Guys” trying to impersonate what they see as African-American stereotypes, going so far as to change their own vernacular of speaking. It’snot like they go whiteface, but it was still interesting to see both sides of the argument. Bud, in particular, had a multi-faceted personality, making you feel like the Blips are his family and their is no other life for him. Played by Jason Mitchell, who also portrayed Eazy-E in Straight Outta Compton, this young actor deserves more name recognition and acting work. In the end, Keanu may be predictable in its story, but is one of the most consistently funny action-comedies I’ve seen in a while. It takes its absurd premise and plays it up so much, knowing exactly what it was the entire time. Now who else wants to see Key and Peele make a Substitute Teacher movie? I know I do.

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