Review: Keanu


Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key attempt to make the difficult jump from sketch comedy to the big screen in Keanu.

The premise for Keanu is as ridiculous as it looks in the trailer: A recently heartbroken Rell (Jordan Peele) finds a stray cat outside his home and names him Keanu. After a night out with his cousin Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key), Rell comes home to find his house broken into and Keanu missing.

Rell’s drug dealer, played by Will Forte), says the house may have been broken into by the 17th St. Blips and they could have Keanu. The 17th St. Blips are a pretty nasty group led by Cheddar (Method Man) and his crew that includes The Carmichael Show’s Tiffany Haddish as Hi-C and Straight Outta Compton’s Jason Mitchell as Bud.

When Rell and Clarence head to the Blips hideout to get Keanu back, they’re mistaken for a murderous duo known as the Allentown Boys. Despite being in way over their heads, the two pretend to be the Allentown Boys and offer to do a drug run with the Blips in exchange for Keanu. Non drug dealers attempting to sell drugs and hang out with gangsters – what could go wrong?

The brilliance of Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key can easily be seen over the course of their 5 seasons on Comedy Central. However, that success doesn’t automatically translate into an entertaining full length feature – just look at some of the SNL alumni movies. The biggest issue facing K&P was making sure Keanu wasn’t a 3 minute sketch stretched to 98 minutes – and thankfully it wasn’t.

In the same vein as the absurd 80’s action comedies, there’s an abundance of jokes, but the action is what makes the movie work. All the action sequences play like action scenes from an action movie and not action scenes from a comedy. In a film drenched in humor, the action can get placed on the back burner. Not this time. Keanu isn’t a bunch of sketches lightly sewn together and passed off as a movie; it’s an actual movie with a plot, story, characters, and even a few call-back jokes.

To be fair, Keanu has no business being as funny as it is. Some of the gags are outrageous, yet generate some huge laughs. One of the best jokes involved Hi-C thanking Rell for his help on the drug bust.

Tiffany Haddish is the breakout star of the film. People who haven’t seen her on The Carmichael Show or clips of her stand-up will be surprised with out witty and funny she is. Hopefully Keanu will open everyone’s eyes so they can see what Haddish can bring to any movie she’s in.

Keanu isn’t one long episode of their show. It’s it’s own movie that has familiar comedy, but is a separate comedy from anything they’ve every done. It’s an action movie. It’s a comedy. It’s an ode to cat lovers. It’s the movie they wanted to make. The two leads play distorted versions of their real selves in a bizarre universe where even the toughest gangster cant’ resist adorable kittens. Even at 98 minutes, it could be trimmed down a tiny bit to keep a few gags from running too long. Fans of Key & Peele should enjoy it. For those who aren’t fans, Keanu is a great start and gives them something to build on.

Grade: B