First, a public service announcement: Key is the tall one, Peele the shorter one.
It should be no surprise, especially to their already amassed legion of fans, that Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are pretty good together, modern successors in a line of great comedic duos. With the likeability of comedic geniuses Laurel and Hardy, the timing and rapport of Moreland and Carter, and the undeniable ability to evoke a good belly laugh like Conway and Korman (not to mention that classic “visual opposites” dynamic we seem to love so much), the only question that remained was simple: can Key and Peele work on the big screen?
The answer, it turns out, is yes – they can hold court for 90 minutes. Written by Jordan Peele and Alex Rubens, Keanu is a genuinely funny movie, and unless you find Key and Peele irrationally irritating or were born without the “finding adorable kittens adorable” gene, it’s worth a trip out to your local multiplex.
Peele plays Rell, a man wallowing in a smoky marijuana haze since his girlfriend broke up with him. Key is Rell’s cousin Clarence, a family man and quite possibly the biggest George Michael fan left on the planet. Clarence is saved the troubling of cheering Rell up when hope in the form of the cutest kitten ever appears on Rell’s doorstep, giving him a new purpose in life. Really, it’s not long before Rell declares he “is nothing” without the little furball. In no time at all photographer Rell has named him Keanu (“I think it means cool breeze in Hawaiian”) and is staging Keanu-centric photoshoots, placing his furry companion in famous Hollywood films. Keanu is almost worth the price of admission just to see the cat in THE SHINING or RESERVOIR DOGS.
I guess that’s my way of saying I want a calendar with kittens in classic movie scenes.
But then one night Rell comes home to find his house ransacked and Keanu missing. A quick chat with neighbor and small time dope dealer Hulka (Will Forte), leads Rell and Clarence to the 17th Street Blips, a gang lead by a dangerous man called Cheddar (Method Man). Christening themselves Tectonic and Shark Tank (their faux hood names if it’s not clear), Rell and Clarence jump in with Cheddar’s crew and prove there’s nothing they won’t do to get Keanu back.
Again, Key and Peele didn’t become “Key and Peele” for no reason. Their chemistry takes center stage in Keanu and the film benefits from it. It also benefits from strong supporting performances from Forte and Cheddar’s crew, played by Tiffany Haddish, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Jason Mitchell, and Jamar Malachi Neighbors. All are great, but Haddish as Hi-C deserves a shout-out, as do appearances by Anna Faris and Luis Guzman. Not to mention the vocal stylings of George Michael and Keanu Reeves.
That said, some bits go on too long, are a touch too self-indulgent, but they can be forgiven almost immediately as Key and Peele move on to the next set up. And some things are just funny, like two men described as sounding like “Richard Pryor doing an impression of a white guy” and “John Ritter all the time” jumping in and out of their blackcents in inopportune moments. So though there may not be a lot going on under the surface of Keanu, it’s still a good time and you will laugh. What more do you want from a comedy?
Keanu, starring Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, is rated R for violence, language throughout, drug use and sexuality/nudity.
Originally posted on BroadwayWorld.com