Four out of five
“Keanu” is a successful transition to film for Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, who form the Comedy Central duo “Key and Peele.” The movie succeeds thanks to a fun and funny plot combined with unmatched chemistry.
Their adventures begin when Rell (Peele) is in the middle of a rough breakup. Nothing makes sense, until he finds Keanu, a kitty that gives him new meaning and purpose. But when Rell with Clarence (Key) return from an evening out his house is ransacked and Keanu is gone.
Desperate to find Keanu, Rell and Clarence dive head first and over their heads into LA’s gang world. They start with only one goal, get Keanu, but as they maneuver through the dangerous world of violence, drugs and gangs, they just hope to survive.
It’s this silly plot, which works as an over-dramatic spoof of various kidnapping movies like “Taken,” that is part of the fun. The other part is that Rell and Clarence are many things but “gangster” isn’t one of them.
The joy — and many of the laughs — is from Rell and Clarence trying to act tougher than they actually are. They change their voices, names, language and walking style to fit with the tough gangsters they’re dealing with.
But sometimes their real selves slip through, and the real tough guys are left wondering why the supposed “gangsters” are listening to soul-pop music and not hard-core rap or why they seem so squeamish around guns and death. The confusion and the fumbling cover-ups are hilarious to watch.
Key and Peele’s comedic genius radiantly shines when they encounter these setbacks. They banter back and forth about what to do, and you’d have to watch it a dozen times to catch all their jokes. Their chemistry together is impeccable, you really think that Rell and Clarence know and understand each other.
All of these aspects of “Keanu” make you want to stay in your seat and keep watching. The film is also a perfect length, 20 minutes more and it would have been too much, but where it sits provides just enough without going overboard.
The only thing that could have improved “Keanu” is having more of the cute kitty in the film. Considering that he is not only the title character, but also the reason for the entire plot, we don’t get to see him enough.
However, that’s a small flaw in an otherwise flawless film. “Keanu” uses a not-so-funny backdrop of gangs, drugs and violence to tell a truly comedic story. Key and Peele prove that they have a lot of jokes left, and in this crazy comedy about a cat, they hit them all purrfectly.