Is Keanu a knock out of the park? Maybe not. But is it a laugh-out-loud, fun time? Absolutely!
As of this writing, it’s Monday night and getting a little late, yet I’m basking in the relaxation level of a Friday. Neither coffee nor a large glass of wine ushered in this calm state; that credit belongs to an adorable little cat named Keanu and dynamite comedic duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele.
This comedy has an action-oriented opening, establishing the fact that this film will be even more fast-paced than the trailer predicts and that the conflict throughout will involve various drug dealers. However, it’s not coveted drug stashes and suitcases full of dough they’re out to steal from one another, it’s a kitten—and for no other reason than its unarguable adorableness!
After the kitten’s first owner is killed, it somehow scampers its way to Rell’s (Peele) porch, and in the knick of time, too, because he was in a state of immobile despair after being dumped by his girlfriend. After his cousin Clarence, a happy-go-lucky people pleaser, calls Rell, he immediately heads over to cheer up his bud, but, by the time he arrives, the cat that Rell has named Keanu has already completely lifted his cousin’s spirits. It was love at first meow (for Rell and the audience)!
Unfortunately, Rell lives next door to a drug dealer, played by Will Forte, and a little mix-up leads to a break-in at Rell’s while he and Clarence are away. They return to find poor Keanu has been cat-napped. The hunt to get him back leads them to a big bad dealer named Cheddar (Method Man) who, sure enough, has Keanu. The adventure to earn—yes earn—the kitten back begins as Rell and Clarence pretend (unconvincingly, yet hilariously) to also be rough and tumble drug lords.
Forte does a good job here as the hip-hop loving drug dealer who no one can take seriously. Method Man and the other members of Cheddar’s crew, including Tiffany Haddish as Hi-C, have hilarious interactions with the film’s leading actors. In addition to this being Key’s and Peele’s first shot leading in a motion picture, Keanu is also their first big project following the series finale of their self-titled Comedy Central sketch show. During the show’s five-season, 53-episode run, many of the sketches focused on race relations, ethnic stereotypes, and popular culture, all of which carry over to Keanu.
Much like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who worked together on Saturday Night Live, Key and Peele starred beside one another on MADtv, and like queens of comedy Fey and Poehler, there’s no limit to the laughs Key and Peele are capable of producing when they team up on a project. Although we’ve seen chemistry develop out of unlikely comedic pairings (such as Melissa McCarthy and Jason Statham in Spy), it’s refreshing to see a comedy starring actors with a rapport as natural as Abbott and Costello. I, like many fans of their show, hope to see much more from them.
Is Keanu a knock out of the park? Maybe not. But is it a laugh-out-loud, fun time? Absolutely! I do feel the need to conclude with a disclaimer: I found it absolutely brilliant that the conflict of this film revolves around a cuddly, irresistibly cute kitten (technically several kittens—seven cats and kittens were used in this role), but I suspect if you don’t melt at the sight of small animals or if you have a general dislike of cats, you won’t enjoy this movie. I, for one, wanted to take a trip to the pet store immediately after leaving the theater. | Megan Washausen