- on Friday, 29 April 2016 15:38
- by Frank Wilkins
The hugely popular Comedy Central skit team of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele (aka Key & Peele) triumphantly make the transition from television sketch comedy to big screen success with Keanu, a film that will have you doubled over with laughter when you’re not full-on aflush with kitten cuteness overload.
The duo avoid the typical trap that befalls so many looking to jump the gap from sketch comedy to full-length feature film by avoiding the feeling that their movie is a 5-minute sketch that goes on for 90 minutes too long. Reference the long list of failed SNL-inspired films on how not to do it, but director Peter Atencio knows his money is in the chemistry of his film’s two fast-talking stars, so he points the camera at them and, for the most part, steps out of the way. The result is a riotously funny riff on buddy action movies with shades of 48 Hours and New Jack City, and a whole bunch of the most adorable kitten screen time you’ve ever seen.
Key and Peele are cousins Rell and Clarence who live in the city – the suburbs, actually – but are far from streetwise. Crushed by a recent breakup, stoner artist Rell finds a new lease on life in the form of an orphaned tiny tabby that makes its way to his front door. He names the cat Keanu and introduces the furry feline to his cousin Clarence who does corporate team-building exercises for a living and is looking forward to the upcoming weekend away from his wife.
A series of absurd events – including the catnapping of Keanu – lead the pair to a seedy strip club owned by a local gangster named Cheddar (Method Man, who played Cheese in TV’s The Wire. Get it?) who they discover is Keanu’s catnapper and now has the kitty dressed in do-rags and gold chains. For suburbanites Clarence and Rell, the mission is simply to get Keanu back and get on with their lives, but the stakes are raised when they find themselves inadvertently involved in Cheddar’s crime ring with a bunch of thugs who call themselves the Blips - made from the outcasts of the Bloods and the Crips.
Pell and co-writer Alex Ruben’s script is essentially a one-noter with a single gimmick that works far longer than it ever should: two suburban black guys, plunged into the world of the gangbangers, are forced to put on African-American stereotypes in order to survive in the unfamiliar underworld.
Key and Peele’s humor has always come from the exploration of culture and about adjusting to the culture one is in, in the moment. And that’s exactly what they do with Keanu. Their ability to turn on a dime by changing speech, posture, and demeanor is on full display as these urbane men of color living in suburbia quickly become urban African Americans in the inner city.
Despite the serious-minded topic at hand, none of it is to be taken too seriously in Keanu. It’s just too much of a self-parody for that. No stereotypes are untouchable, neither are any of Hollywood’s action films or action stars. They are all the targets here and we get the sense that everyone who gets poked by the parody stick would have it no other way. Everyone is having fun and it shows. Pay particularly close attention and you might recognize the voice of a star whose uncredited appearance was expected by most, but certainly not to the great effect it found.
Though the idea of adding the film’s heart (its “awww” moment, if you will) in the form of a tiny tabby came about late in the development process, it is nonetheless nothing short of a stroke of pure genius. The film isn’t about a cat, in fact the titular tabby is more of a McGuffin than anything, but I know of at least one person who was enticed by the endearing posters that feature the furry feline’s mug. Keanu is always a better film when the cute little kitten is on the screen.
It’s important to know that Keanu is well-deserving of its hard R rating and should only be seen by adults. Let’s not have any small children unexpectedly losing their innocence by what they thought was a follow-up to Puss in Boots.
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language throughout, drug use and sexuality/nudity
Runtime: 98 mins
Director: Peter Atencio
Writer: Jordan Peele, Alex Rubens
Cast: Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Tiffany Haddish
Genre: Comedy | Crime
Memorable Movie Quote: "I'll take a white wine spritzer"
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Official Site: http://keanumovie.com/#/
Release Date: April 29, 2016
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details available.
Synopsis: Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, a.k.a. the hugely popular comedy duo Key & Peele, star as Clarence and Rell, two cousins who live in the city but are far from streetwise. When Rell's beloved kitten, Keanu, is catnapped, the hopelessly straight-laced pair must impersonate ruthless killers in order to infiltrate a street gang and retrieve the purloined feline. But the incredibly adorable kitten becomes so coveted that the fight over his custody creates a gang war, forcing our two unwitting heroes to take the law into their own hands.
Own it on Blu-ray - August 2, 2016
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); English: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps); French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps); Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD-50); UV digital copy; Digital copy
Region Encoding: A
As usual, Warner Bros has done a superb transfer of the film. Keanu's AVC encoded 1080p transfer (in 2.40:1) video transfer is simply amazing. Shot digitally, the transfer is crisply detailed as it makes you laugh with its hysterical take on L.A.'s thug life. The colors are bold and, complete with deep blacks and pulpy reds, offer a nice depth to the picture. The transfer has sharp textures and details throughout. Even in its darkest moments (the strip club), the attention to detail is specific and pretty glorious. No artifacting is found anywhere in the feature presentation. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is the perfect complement to the hard-hitting action.
Intentionally hysterical, the supplemental items NEVER let up on its audience. Too bad that there are only three featurettes to be found on the disc. You get a brief making of that's seen through the eyes of the kitten at the center of the tale, a collection of deleted scenes, and a a hysterical gag reel. Keanu just wants to make you laugh and pee yourself silly.
- Deleted Scenes (15 min)
- Substitute TeacherI
- Don't Think That God Works Like That
- It's Not Over
- Dungeons and Dragons
- Ain't Gonna Be No Tomorrow
- I Like to Use My Hands
- Dirty Nails, Dirty Dick
- Gag Reel (6 min)
- My First Movie (3 min)