Keanu is a movie that’s tailored made for the kitten-action-comedy demographic, which I happen to fall under.
The concept of Keanu can be seen as subversive or ludicrous. Rather than a damsel in distress, all the rival gangs are vying for a kitten. And the protagonists decide to put their ass on the line to get the kitten out of peril. Much of the comedy in the movie derives from the juxtaposition of two black guys that are anything but hood. While it may be a well-worn path to fans of Key and Peele because the two of them have perfected this particular fake-gangster shtick, I still enjoyed it, because it’s central to the arch of these two idiotic characters.
Cheap though it may have been—the constant homages to classic action flicks put a smile on my face. The movie kicks off with an homage to Boondock Saints: Two men clad in trench coats, shoot their way through a drug operation—dual wielding, of course. And, it ends with a shoot out that mirrors the mansion firefight at the end of Beverly Hills Cop. There’s even a quick send up to the lawn fight at the very end of Lethal Weapon. All they’re really doing is evoking my sense of nostalgia and love for a completely different film. But I loved it.
Key and Peele are not reinventing the wheel. They set out to make an action comedy that appeals to my generation and they succeeded. They used all the tricks in the book. It’s no accident that they swapped out the damsel in distress for a cat. If the Internet has taught us anything, it’s that people really fucking love cats. But I’m not going to fault them on that because the film is still
fun-ass ride for an hour and a half.
A few reviewers have joked that Keanu is just an hour and half sketch by Key & Peele, but I think those reviewers are missing the point. They’re mistaking Key & Peele’s chemistry for their comedic styling. The heart of the whole movie—and arguably any one of their skits—is the chemistry shared between Key and Peele. How they manage to build on each other’s energy and escalate a mundane scene to something comedic through dialogue or body language. They shouldn’t be faulted because they play well off of each other regardless of the TV screen or the silver screen.
The one criticism I found in Keanu also happens to be a broad sweeping criticism to all American comedies. They are filmed in a boring manner. It’s always quipy dialogue delivered “shot, reverse shot.” There’s never any frenetic movement with the camera. Key and Peele might be animated, but the camera is always static. I came to this realization during an off-beat drug trip midway through the movie that was visually refreshing. One of the character’s finds himself in a George Michael music video, and because they’re imitating the style of the music video the camera jumps around quite a bit, inviting the viewer into the action, rather than staying stationary the whole movie… Alright, I’m done with that useless tangent.
I always run out of things to say with comedy reviews.