Dan's Review: "Keanu" worth a few laughs
May 02, 2016 04:41PM ● Published by Dan Metcalf
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele in Keanu - © 2016 - Warner Bros.
Keanu (Warner Bros.)
Rated R for violence, language throughout, drug use and sexuality/nudity.
Starring Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Tiffany Haddish, Method Man, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Jason Mitchell, Jamar Malachi Neighbors, Luis Guzmán, Will Forte, Nia Long, Rob Huebel.
Written by Jordan Peele and Alex Rubens.
Directed by Peter Atencio.
This review contains racial humor; not the kind your distant uncle uses during family dinners, making everyone squirm and hope no one posted it on social media. It’s the brand of Key and Peele, the comic duo of the former Comedy Central program that showcased their acumen for using racism and our fear of racial offense for humorous effect. The pair is releasing Keanu, their first feature film this week.
Jordan Peele plays Rell, a pothead on the rebound after his girlfriend leaves him. Keegan-Michael Key plays his best pal Clarence, a straight-laced fellow with very “white” tastes in music (mostly George Michael), clothes and vehicles. When the despondent Rell discovers a cute kitten at his doorstep, he finds new meaning in life, showering the cat (he names Keanu) with love and affection. When members of the local street gang the “Blips” (for people more violent than the Bloods and Crips), steals Keanu, Rell drags Clarence into a quest that will take them to the underworld of the street gang to get his kitty back. In order to find Keanu, the men must infiltrate the Blips, battle assassins, perform crimes and risk their lives.
Keanu is often funny, even though Key and Peele rely a little too heavily on the twisting of racial stereotypes. Keegan-Michael Key’s “white guy” persona works for the first half of the movie, but the gag gets old as he transforms into would-be “gangsta.” Jordan Peele is equally funny, but his character seems out of place as the friend of such a sedentary suburbanite.
Keanu (the very cute tabby kitten) is perhaps the most endearing part of the movie. The kitten (or several kittens) melts everyone’s hearts, but not enough to make any kind of socially relevant racial satire gel in the movie.
In the end, Keanu is worthy of a few laughs, but not enough to make audiences stand up and cheer.
Keanu is rated R for good reason, so don’t be fooled by the cute kitty. It’s not for kids, even if rough adults need to squeal “awwwwww…” at the sight of such innocent cuteness from time to time.