Written by Jacob Chimilar (@sweetlows)
After being cast members of MADtv and five solid seasons of sketch comedy in Comedy Central's "Key and Peele" , Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele clearly know how to make quality sketches. Now it's time for that team to take their talents to the big screen. Their show was often praised for its cinematic quality, especially given the fact that comedies often lack the visual flair more dramatic movies demand. This film lives up to that quality of filmmaking, now in its proper presentation.
Keanu tells the story of Rell, a man who has just broken up with his girlfriend, getting a surprise visit from a seemingly feral cat. In actuality the cat belongs to a drug cartel that was taken out by another rival gang. Rell's house is broken into and the cat is stolen. He, along with the help of his cousin Clarence, will stop at nothing to get Keanu back, even if it means posing as the baddest gangsters in town.
The main question you may ask is, "Can Key and Peele craft something longer than a 10 minute sketch and have it be funny?" Hell yes they can. Keanu survives on its stars, if you enjoy these two, and their chemistry, you'll love this movie. I had a grin on my face the whole way through. The final season of Key and Peele wasn't as good as their previous efforts and I'm guessing that may have had something to do with their attention being a bit more focused on this movie, but they hit so many home runs with the show it's not that big of a deal. It can be a bit one note at times but in the context of the film it is warranted as the two of them end up infiltrating a gang and need to, in their words, "black it up a little bit". They start acting like hardcore gangsters, dropping the N Bomb constantly to keep up their appearances, despite the two of them looking like a typical suburban dad and a slacker who would rather smoke weed than sell it. The supporting cast includes a convincingly thuggish Method Man and the convincingly, trying too hard to be a thug, Will Forte as Rell's drug dealer. The cats playing Keanu are so adorable and used sparingly but effectively throughout. This cat isn't some weird action star cat, it's just a cat stuck in the middle of a crazy drug war, much like our heroes trying to rescue him, which makes the scenes of him running through gun fire in slow motion quite fun to watch.
This is a pretty by the numbers, fish out of water story with the ridiculous twist being all these thugs are fighting each other over a cat. It is a concept done so well with the jokes flying by fast and funny that it really doesn't matter so much that the basic structure is, well basic. The performances are great, the action is well shot and engaging, the big running joke works perfectly with a real highlight coming from the strength of director Peter Atencio and cinematographer Jas Shelton's ability to mimic other films looks. There are lots of laugh out loud moments and genuine zaniness that it's hard to take things too seriously and the team clearly knows this. I'd say if you like the recent 21 Jumpstreet movies and Hot Fuzz, this would fit in that same category. It's not as good as those movies but like them it is aware of the genre it is in and has fun exploring the tropes without going too crazy with references
The transfer from the small screen to the big screen is flawless. Its just as cinematic as the show and if you are at all a fan of Key and Peele you should really go see this movie, its everything you could want in a Key and Peele movie and I hope it leads to more collaborations in the future