So I went and saw New Line Cinema’s Keanu the other day. It was fantastic! Though to be fair I may be a little biased because I love anything Jordan Peele and Kegan Michael Key are in — going as far back as their stint on MADTV in the late 2000’s and especially their work together on Key and Peele for Comedy Central, a series I am devastated is over.
The film starts with an action sequence. Two thugs, know as the Allentown Brothers, wipe out a cartel drug operation, killing everyone in a Matrix-like style, flipping off walls and effortlessly wiping out everyone with impeccably aimed gunplay. These giant hulking thugs can barely be recognized as Key and Peele, having been heavily made up. While all of this is going on, the head of the operation is trying to sneak away, holding his adorable kitten. After murdering its owner, the kitten gets away only to appear on the doorstep of a recently heartbroken Rell Willams (Jordan Peele) who, along with his cousin Clarence (Keegan Michael Key), fall head over heels for the little critter, naming him Keanu.
Everything appears to be going well for Keanu until Rell and Clarence go to see a movie, leaving the kitten alone for the evening. Rell’s house is broken into, with Keanu being the only thing taken. The pair find out that the 17th Street Blips are the guys who took him and they head to the Blips’ hideout, Hot Party Vixens, or HPV as the sign says. The two suburban men proceed to infiltrate the gang and work for Cheddar (Method Man) doing jobs, trying to get the cat back.
The movie is funny from start to finish and is not as cookie cutter as it may seem at first. Written by Jordan Peele and Alex Rubens, directed by Peter Atencio, Keanu hits all the notes that a fan of Key and Peele, or really all comedy fans, would want a movie to hit. I suppose that makes sense considering Rubens and Atencio both worked on Key and Peele.
It feels like a long series of Key and Peele skits in the best possible way; it is as hilarious as ever. One of the things I liked best about this movie is how realistic this completely absurd situation feels, especially as Key and Peele get more and more involved with the gang, befriending gang members Bud (Jason Mitchell), Trunk (Darrell Britt-Gibson), and Stitches (Jama Malachi Neighbors). The two best scenes in the movie occur at the same time, they are Peele’s Rell going on a drug deal with Hi C (Tiffany Haddish) while also encountering and dealing with a celebrity (Anna Farris playing herself, SO funny), and then there was Key’s Clarence sitting in the van with the other 3 aforementioned gang members, who are being indoctrinated into the cult of George Michael by Clarence. Both of these surreal scenes are so representative of the comedy style of Key and Peele, and play out amazingly well.
I also want to add that Keanu is played by the most adorable kittens and apparently all of the kittens they used were shelter cats. All the kittens used in the film also ended up going to loving homes as they were all adopted.
This movie gets a 9 out 10 for me as, my love of Key and Peele aside, it is a really smart, well made comedy. It works so well because you can see all of these things happening in real life, even though the situations are completely absurd and surreal, they are executed realistically, and the ending only serving to compliment that notion. Go see it, NOW!