Keegan-Michal Key and Jordan Peele recently left a lucrative contract with Comedy Central on the table for their show “Key and Peele,” believing they had tapped that creative mine. It takes balls to leave a fat paycheck and a critically acclaimed show for what you may believe are greener pastures. In today’s entertainment climate, it might even seem foolhardy and arrogant to believe you have bigger and better things to move on to. K&P was arguably the best sketch show Comedy Central has offered since Chappelle’s Show, after all. However, it seems Key and Peele’s transition into movie making was justified with their feature release of Keanu.
At its core, Keanu is about a guy named Rell (played by Peele) obsessively in love with a kitten he finds on his doorstep after a heartbreaking split with his girlfriend. After a night out with his demure cousin, Clarence (Key), Rell finds his apartment has been broken in to and his furry friend missing. This sends the pair on a mission that finds them wrapped up in a gang, selling drugs, and generally trying to avoid dying while retrieving the cat.
Key and Peele also play the parts of a pair of mute hitmen known as the “Allentown boys.” This might seem a little confusing and hack at first glance, but it pays off as a pretty decent gag throughout. Other players include Method Man, Nia Long, Will Forte, Luiz Guzman, and Tiffany Haddish, who all do solid jobs portraying their respective characters. Will Forte is predictably outside the box and hilarious as Rell’s weed dealer, and Method Man is surprisingly good as the gang leader of the “Blips.”
The movie moves at a pretty good clip, and it certainly doesn’t feel like it consumes all of its 98 minute run-time. There is one notable exception, as Anna Faris (playing herself) gets an extended, sort of sour cameo in what could have easily been cut in half without missing anything. I don’t find Faris unappealing as a ditzy weirdo, but the scene seemed out of place and extremely forced.
As a comedy, this movie plays as well as most any Key and Peele sketch, hitting the mark perfectly for any fan of the show. Key and Peele are just remarkably likable as a duo, and their offbeat humor is unique to their brand. As an action movie, you’ll be surprised how much drama they squeeze out of every gun fight, every confrontation, and the climactic car chase at its conclusion. It’s not silly past the point of reasonable believability, and really feels balanced for it.
There are plenty of catch phrases that Key and Peele have invented over the years, but I’m pretty sure “Word to the Turdness” is one you won’t forget for quite a while.
Conclusion: Despite the janky Anna Faris scene, this is a movie well worth seeing at some point if you’re already a fan of the players. It will likely recoup if not smash its modest 15 million dollar budget over the next couple of weeks, and it deserves to do so.
Plus, Keanu the kitten is fucking adorable.
Keanu – 8.5/10