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Keanu




Keanu (R)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

05/05/16
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



 Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are everyday dorks who have to gangster up in an attempt to save the titular kitten in Keanu, a breezy, silly extended version of what you’d see on any given episode of the sketch show Key & Peele.

Rell (Peele) is deep in a couch/takeout/pot depression cycle over a recent breakup. Clarence (Key) is a suburban dad getting a rare weekend to himself when his wife and daughter go out of town. When Clarence shows up to Rell’s house to take his cousin to a movie, he finds that Rell has gotten out of his funk but gone off the deep end over Keanu, a tiny adorable kitten whom Rell tells “I am nothing without you” before he leaves for the movie. When the pair return from the movie (a “Liam Neesons” movie, of course), they find Rell’s house ransacked and Keanu gone. Thus begins a quest that takes them first to Rell’s pot-dealing neighbor, Hulka (Will Forte), and then to a drug dealer named Cheddar (Method Man). Cheddar works out of a strip club, the initials of which are HPV, and his lieutenant is a woman named Hi-C (Tiffany Haddish), whom Rell starts to fancy, even though he and Clarence are pretending to be the hardcore killers known as the Allentown boys. 
What we know but Rell and Clarence don’t know is that Keanu’s original owner was another drug dealer who was gunned down, along with all of his crew, by the mysterious Allentown duo at the beginning of the movie. That duo is still hunting the cat and being hunted themselves. Meanwhile Cheddar is attempting to kickstart the distribution of a new product that’s some kind of crack/PCP next-level intoxicant. Because the Allentown boys have such as bad-ass reputation, Cheddar asks Rell and Clarence, who are calling themselves Tectonic and Shark Tank (I think Rell is Tectonic and Clarence is Shark Tank, though both names are hilariously thought of on the fly), to help out in exchange for giving them the cat. Thus do Rell, who had been making a movie still-themed calendar starring Keanu (but only for personal use) and Clarence, an avid George Michael fan, participate in drug dealing, murder and other assorted crimes, all for Keanu.
Usually saying that a movie feels like an extended sketch is not a compliment. This movie even makes use of bits — “Liam Neesons,” telephone voice altering based on surrounding company — that appeared in Key & Peele episodes. But somehow here it all works, or at least it works often enough. Key and Peele have always been good at finding humor in nuance, especially in the nuances of race, relationships, language and socioeconomic position. So even in minor scenes, where the overall action is some goofy part of the gangster plot, the comedy often comes from some smaller piece of the scene — a bit of dialogue or an exchanged look. The pair has cracking comedy chemistry and a good sense of exactly how far to go, how to be goofy but not so goofy it takes us out of the story. 
Keanu isn’t a tight brick wall of jokes, nor does it have that Judd Apatow “they just let the camera roll” feel. It’s loose, easy but with enough structure to keep all the little moments and funny lines together and keep the story moving forward. B+
Rated R for violence, language throughout, drug use and sexuality/nudity. Directed by Peter Atencio and written by Jordan Peele and Alex Rubens, Keanu is an hour and 40 minutes long and distributed by Warner Bros. 
 

 






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