Movie Review: Keanu | Giant Fire Breathing Robot

Movie Review: Keanu

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Key and Peele are ascendant. Though their Comedy Central show has ended, it’s clear that the comedy duo have long careers ahead of them. Don’t believe me? Turn on any random sitcom or comedy film in recent history and there’s a good chance that one or both of them will be in it somewhere. I joke that Keegan-Michael Key is the Jude Law of comedy in that he appears in nearly everything these days. It’s just a joke, but it’s really not far from the truth. But there’s a reason that these guys are getting so much work: they’re goddamned hilarious.  And now, with Keanu, the duo has brought their skills to the big screen in their first film.

Keanu is a kitten. A super adorable kitten that finds its way to the home of Rell (Jordan Peele), a slacker stoner who has been recently dumped by his girlfriend. When Rell’s house is broken into and Keanu disappears, Rell and his cousin Clarence (Key) go on an adventure to find the feline. This adventure ultimately finds them posing as murderous drug enforcers called the Allentown Brothers. To say much more would be a disservice to the surprises found in Keanu.

Keanu, so named in reference to Keanu Reeves (and more specifically John Wick, though I noticed only one real joke that is a direct reference to that movie) is a send up of action films. If you’ve seen any of Key and Peele’s Comedy Central show, you know that one of the hallmarks of their sketches is their adherence to the visual style and tropes of whatever genre they are lampooning. Longtime Key and Peele director Peter Atencio transitions this sensibility to the big screen really well. Keanu is a comedy first, but when the action starts it looks tremendous.

The script for Keanu is great at introducing an idea or a joke and building back to it as the film continues. Callbacks can sometimes be poorly handled in comedy. I can think of a number of Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen flicks that callback jokes over and over again pretty badly. Here, slight jokes (like Clarence’s love of George Michael music) are played for chuckles, but brought back up again and again in different and totally hilarious ways. I found this film to be incredibly funny and totally satisfying.

I love Key and Peele, and I hope they can make more movies like this. Keanu isn’t a perfect replacement for their Comedy Central show, but it’s a good start. Chock full of fun cameos, hilarious gags, and a surprising amount of heart, Keanu is a movie for comedy and cat lovers alike.

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