Reviewed by Mason Manuel
Comedy icons Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele make their first foray into making their own film with catnip Keanu. In a sort of reverse John Wick, the friends go off on an epic quest up against insurmountable odds all in the name of rescuing the cutest damn cat in the world (and I say that as a dog person).The duo do an impressive job for their first outing into film, creating a hilarious romp with surprisingly deep characters instead of falling into what could easily been a half hearted money job.
Peele plays stoner Rell whom, after a messy breakup, has sunken into falling bad for himself and smoking a truck load of weed. One day, an adorable kitten appears on his doorstep under mysterious circumstances. Rell decides on the “finders keepers” rule and immediately becomes enamoured with the furball. But before he can get too attached, his house is broken into by the 17th street Blips (the thugs that got kicked out of the Bloods and Crips, hence Blips). Rell, along with his minivan driving and family man friend Clarence (Key), will fight to rescue their furry companion.
While it may help if you were originally a fan of the comedy duo’s show on Comedy Central, it is by no means necessary to find enjoyment with Keanu. The writing here is mostly smart and feels believable as far as how a couple of regular dudes would react to trying to infiltrate a murderous gang of misfits. Speaking of which, the Blips crew (including Straight Outta Compton’s Jason Mitchell and Tiffany Hadish) are fantastic parodies of how the public sees gangsters. Hardcore drug pushers for sure but not without a little marshmallow center to make them sympathetic characters. The story focuses on Rell’s pursuit of kitty Keanu but Clarence is the character that shows the much growth by the end. Though he is a hardcore family man, he finds that he likes being able to let loose a bit more than he expected to. He gets in with the gang so deep that he is able to convince them that a minivan is the perfect gangster car and that George Michael’s music could act as a father figure to all men in the hood. It’s so ludicrous that it works and makes for a hilarious couple of hours.
The jokes are mostly hits until the last fifteen minutes where the film feels like it has overstayed its welcome with what I call “multiple ending syndrome.” There are multiple moments where the film could have easily ended with everyone having happy resolutions but for some reason they tack on more unnecessary material every time you think it’s over. It’s a small complaint but one that could have been easily avoided. Since the feature is close to two hours of straight jokes it is expected that some of of the humor falls flat but these moments are sparse and rarely take you out of the experience. Keanu is at its best when the formula of the film is rather non formulaic. Everything ends in a big shootout which could have been seen from a mile away and feels sub par but excellent comedic twists keep these basic movie formula movements from falling too flat.
Keanu is an adorable, hilarious buddy comedy that hits more than it misses. Highly enjoyable for a variety of audiences, it’s a surefire good time that all can enjoy (especially animal lovers). RDR gives Keanu a 7.3 out of 10.