Transitioning from television to film can be difficult for comedians. The world of television allowed them to take their style of comedy slower and to let their audience warm up and accept their brand for what it is. It may not always work, but this has been a fine basis to find out what kind of comedian one could be. Tim Allan worked well on Home Improvement as his “Tim the Tool Man” character gave him advantage to use his dry-style of high ego that was good at in his stand up. Same thing from Jim Parsons from Big Bang Theory as his speech tone made Sheldon’s Asperger’s arrogance likable. Both of these guys have had success on television, but making the next jump into film has proven hard.
Today’s movie considers the two comedians Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. They hit the scene as the creators of the Comedy Central sketch comedy, Key & Peele. I have seen a couple of their segments and found them pretty funny. And while I have seen them in bit parts, hey have never headlined their own movie. That all changes with the parody of John Wick, Keanu.
Clarence (played by Keegan-Michael Key) and Rell (played by Jordan Peele) are two friends in LA that different lifestyles. Clarence has a family, lives in a nice house and has really taken to then suburban culture while Rell is an aspiring photographer and pot smoker who lives in a small apartment in the city. After a bad break up, a little kitten (as the movie says, ”the worlds cutest cat) shows up on Rell’s doorstop. The two bond and Rell spends much of his time either taking cat photos for a personal calendar or training him to claw up pictures of his ex. He even makes Clarence say good bye when he and Rell go to catch a movie.
When the two return home, the cat now named Keanu, has been taken in a burglary. They visit Rell’s next-door neighbor, a pot dealer Hulka (played by Will Forte) who reveals that a local gang was responsible for the robbery. Clarence and Rell make it to their strip club where they pose as drug dealers just to see their leader Cheddar. The two manage to put on enough of a show where Cheddar (played by Method Man) agrees to give them the cat in exchange for participating in some drug deals.
As far as first films go, Keanu is a pretty good start for Key and Peele. Both guys were in full comedic force, playing off their personalities at the right moments. They work a lot with the movie’s “mistaken identity” joke, which happens to be the one long joke of Keanu. In the same vein of North by Northwest and Date Night, everything strives on how long our heroes can keep up their charade, to which they do well (one of my favorite jokes involves the use of the music of George Michael).
As I said, Keanu is a one-joke movie that barley stretches it enough to the ninety minute running time. I would have liked to have seen another side plot of some sort, but at least the movie makes up it’s thin plot by also having some fast-paced action whenever the guns are a blazing. You certainly want to make it to the end as the cat they got for Keanu is truly an adorable thing. This is the kind of animal that would have become a hit on YouTube. While I don’t know I would infiltrate a gang to get it back, you definitely want to see these guys get their cat back.
I’ll give this four cat paws out of five. Keanu is totally self aware with how silly and dumb it is. Most people might miss that this is a parody of the darker John Wick. You don’t have to know Key & Peele before coming in as you’ll quickly establish whose who. While this isn’t spec-cat-tular, I enjoyed this pet story.