Movie Review: Keanu (2016)
“Divided we fur.”
Director: Peter Atencio
Cast: Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Tiffany Haddish
Synopsis: Two friends endeavour to rescue a kitten stolen by gangsters.
MADtv comedy duo Key and Peele make their big screen team debut in Keanu, a fitfully amusing fish-out-of-water comedy which sees the lanky half of the duo (Keegan-Michael Key – Due Date, Tomorrowland: A World Beyond) playing Clarence, a black guy so square that his friend and cousin Rell (Jordan Peele) likens him to Richard Pryor doing an impression of a white guy. Clarence is a George Michael devotee who wears dad clothes and is only momentarily nonplussed when the husband of his wife’s friend takes her on a weekend trip with just his kid for company after his own wife falls ill with food poisoning. Rell is the exact opposite of his cousin, a pot-smoking slacker who has trouble holding on to a girlfriend, and is only lifted from the depths of depression over his latest break-up by the unexpected arrival on his doorstep of a stray kitten that he christens Keanu.
Before you know it, Rell is using Keanu as a calendar model, but his happiness is abruptly curtailed when he and Clarence return from a trip to see the latest Liam Neeson flick to find that Rell’s place has been ransacked and Keanu is missing. An interrogation of his drug-dealer neighbour reveals that Rell’s house was probably burgled by a gang called the Blips (gangsters who didn’t make the cut as a Blood or a Crip) who mistakenly believed it to be the dealer’s pad. Undeterred by the fact that, irrespective of the failure to make it in the top tier of gangsterhood, the Blips are still pretty hardcore hoods, Rell vows to rescue his kitten, and insists that Clarence assist him.
You could hardly accuse Keanu of pushing back the barriers of comedy, but it’s harmless enough fun. Key and Peele make an amiable enough team which get plenty of mileage out of their straight-guys-adrift-in-a-world-of-violence, even though it does begin to wear a bit thin by the final reel, and Peele always seems to be labouring a little in Key’s figurative shadow. The support includes Method Man, riffing on his role as Cheese in the TV show Wired by playing the cat-napping Blip’s leader, Cheddar, who dresses his new pet, now re-christened New Jack, in a fetching black bandanna and gold chain. Anna Faris (Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel, The Dictator) creates an impression playing herself as a semi-crazed dope fiend keen to play truth or dare with people’s lives, and it’s always good to see Luis Guzman (Carlito’s Way, We’re the Millers), who grows a little wider with each passing year, playing a high-living drug baron.
Keanu is one of those movies that gives the impression that everybody had a great time working on it, and much of that translates to the screen, elevating what is really an ordinary comedy which coasts too often for its own good into an entertaining time-filler which achieves most of its modest objectives.
(Reviewed 11th July 2016)