‘Keanu’ Review: Kitten, Please

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Gustavo Gonzalez

A week before the start of the summer blockbuster season, Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key’s Keanu hit the big screen, providing laugh-out-loud moments and decent doses of action.

The film feels as though it is made up of multiple sketches tied together by the main story of Rell (Jordan Peele) trying to get back his kidnapped kitten Keanu with the help of his cousin Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) by infiltrating a Blip Gang hideout (a hybrid Blood and Crip gang). Though some moments seem a bit excessive, and in some cases unnecessary, the scenes ultimately work because of Key and Peele’s excellent dynamic, which they have perfected since their MADtv days.

The film starts at a Mexican drug hideout where the titular kitten narrowly escapes the clutches of the Allentown Brothers (also played by Key and Peele) who shoot up the place and kill the drug lord. The kitten finds its way to Rell’s doorstep and he instantly becomes attached, as he has just recently been dumped by his girlfriend.

Cut to two weeks later and Clarence is speaking with his wife (Nia Long) who insists that he let loose and enjoy himself for the weekend while she leaves with the kids and her friend’s husband. He does so with Rell by going out to see a “Liam Neesons” movie, one of many moments referencing their Key and Peele sketch show. However, they return to Rell’s apartment to find that his apartment has been broken into and Keanu has been kitten-napped. The cousins find out with the help of Rell’s weed dealer Hulka (Will Forte) that the kitten is in the hands of the Blip Gang, run by a man named Cheddar (Method Man).

Rell and Clarence must get to the heart of the hideout by acting gangster and adopting the personas Tectonic and Shark Tank. Cheddar confuses the two for the Allentown Brothers and decides he will give the two Keanu if they help him sell his new Holy Shit drug (that’s the name of the drug, man).

You would assume that with hearing the premise of the film you would, at best, call it “so bad it’s good,” but I was surprised by its genuinely funny moments. It wasn’t so much the clever writing, though there is clever writing, as much as it was the visual performances by the actors, particularly Key.

One of the more hilarious scenes is when Tectonic and Shark Tank are getting to know the gangsters, and Shark Tank decides to have ice breakers amongst the group. The visual reactions of Key and Peele sell the moment with their scared reactions. When Cheddar has the cousins at gunpoint but then confuses them for the Allentown Brothers, the exchange of laughter garners chuckles until you see the emotional breakdown that Clarence has over having his life spared.

One thing that does happen quite a bit, since each scene flows like interconnected sketches, is that once in a while they may drag on a little longer than necessary. One scene in particular that stands out as both hilarious but at the same time overstaying its welcome includes a great cameo by a certain Scary Movie actress who is buying some of Cheddar’s Holy Shit drug. It is intercut with Shark Tank introducing the gangsters to George Michael music while they’re on lookout, though, so it isn’t too bad.

Overall, I enjoyed Keanu as a comedic surprise. The comedy was great, albeit it can drag at times. Definitely recommend if you’re already a Key and Peele fan, otherwise, give it a shot on a matinee day.