‘Keanu’ Is The High-Octane Kitten Rescue Movie You’ve Always Wanted (Movie Review)

keanu thumbIf you have been wondering why more action movies don’t center on rescuing adorable animals, Keanu has you covered. Fresh off of their hit sketch-comedy show Key & Peele, Jordan Peele and KeeganMichael Key have re-teamed with their frequent collaborator, director Peter Atencio, for an action comedy about how far two men will go to save a little kitty cat. The results are a bit broader than I was hoping, but for a one or two-joke premise, the film does manage to hit more than miss.



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The story is incredibly simple, as it involves Rell (Peele) looking for his catnapped kitten Keanu with his cousin Clarence (Key). This is no ordinary kitten though, Keanu was formerly owned by a drug lord, established in the film’s opening scene featuring a crazy gunfight. Rell found the kitten by chance and Keanu helped him to get over his ex-girlfriend. Now it looks like Rell and Clarence will have to pose as tough gangsters to get to the bottom of who stole Keanu.

A premise like this is obviously silly, but the film does its best to take the situation seriously, while going wildly over-the-top with elements such as action sequences. Part of what entertained me about Key & Peele was the cinematic eye that was clearly present in the way they parodied action films and thrillers. That is found here for sure, with the film setting itself up on the right foot and taking steps to keep up that visual touch every so often.

It also helps to see Key and Peele doing well with their characters. While not the deepest individuals or even ones with incredible arcs, we learn what we need to and get to watch two gifted performers do what is necessary to continually deliver based on what they have established about their personas. There is a fun supporting cast here as well, which includes Will Forte as weed dealer Hulka and Method Man, among others, all providing good work as the various gang members questioning the validity of the act Clarence and Rell put on in an attempt to find their kitten.

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There are a few issues in this kind of film. It mainly comes down to whether or not the film can sustain its flimsy premise. Keanu certainly falls in lines with films like MacGruber or Let’s Be Cops, which are hit and miss comedies that rely on the strength of their performers. I could champion MacGruber plenty because of the commitment to the roles and a similar cinematic touch that allowed the film to closely resemble what it was parodying. Keanu does its best to keep rolling through with what it sets up, but I can’t say the entire film was consistently funny.

A trip to Anna Faris’ house ends up dragging the film down, in addition to other extended sequences, which basically feels like the film stalling, before moving on with what little story it has. Better time could have been spent examining where Clarence and Rell are coming from versus the situation they now find themselves in. The joke is clear about these two not being tough guys yet having to pose as such, but there is more to work with on that level.

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Key & Peele always had fun as its main intention, but you could not overlook a lot of the clever social commentary being addressed in many of their sketches. Lots of tropes, clichés and stereotypes were essentially being put under a microscope and examined with a humorous angle. For Keanu, the humor is very straightforward and while that is fun to an extent, the film could have done more to push boundaries or address certain issues to help the film resonate even more.

This really shouldn’t take away from how good the really good laughs in this film are. Moments of banter or just reactions shared between Key and Peele are usually highlights, but there are some very clever gags as well. There is also the adorable kitty cat that certainly leaves an impression. I wish Keanu was like watching one truly amazing sketch from Key & Peele that easily worked for 90 minutes, but I was still satisfied enough by the comedy presented.

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