When an L.A. drug kingpin's kitten unexpectedly enters the life of two cousins, they will have to go through gangs, hitmen and drug dealers who claim him in order to get him back.
Rell's life is changed forever when a cute kitten comes to his door, and he names it Keanu. Unfortunately, one weekend later, Keanu is abducted by persons unknown. Now Rell and his cousin, Clarence, are men on a mission to find Keanu against the odds. Unfortunately, those odds prove to be perilously high as they find Keanu in the care of the ruthless gangster, Cheddar, and he will only part with him for a price. Now for that cute kitten, these two middle class bumblers find themselves neck deep in a dangerous alien world of drugs and gang violence with only their desperate audacity, creativity and sheer dumb luck giving them a chance to survive.
Our favourite duo Key and Peele are here with their very own fully fledged movie. Keanu is sort of a strange unraveling comedy made better by its rib-tickling comic performances.
Brilliant comic timings of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele aggrandize every comic scene they are in. There constant reasoning with references is what fills their cajoling with plentiful humour. Their inane talks will have you wait for that impactful punch and that's what they invariably bank on.
DIRECTION OF KEANU
Sitting on the director's chair is Peter Atencio, who hands us over a slow paced yet perfectly plausible comedy. Does he make Keanu a winning affair? Oh yes he does! The way he helms allows viewers to encash on perfect focus. You have plenty of time to comprehend what is going on. When you take the opening slo-mo sequence of Keanu into account, wherein a poor kitten gets trapped in a shootout escapade, you realize how he doesn't rule out theatrics from his work at all. Peter Atencio pays attention to story building. He comprehends the crux of the theme he is directing and remembers to come around to justify it every now and then.
The bad thing is that you don't see a lot of subtlety in his direction. He takes on a plain staid approach to depict his frames. Even though it works for him, to be candid, it ends up becoming a very jaded direction.
PLOT FRONT (SPOILERS AHEAD)
Keanu is more of a sitcom that places cousins Rell Williams and Clarence Goobril in a really dangerous situation. Whilst they play along in order to find the kitten who took Rell's heart almost at once, masks they wear are jocularly awkward. A series of lies get them finger deep in a muck of their own doing, and they end up donning an image they were never comfortable with.
Keanu, the adorable kitten, however ephemeral its role is, stays the rudimentary basis of the movie's plot. It circles around the kitten constantly trying to put meaning into the no-nonsense comedy.
The good thing about Keanu is its unfurling pace. It runs on a brilliant conveyor that knows how to sieve in quality humour. The fact that every event has repercussions and is followed up properly with a plausible act is what makes this flick highly delectable giving it a proper movie-like contour.
PLENTY OF DOWNSIDES TOO
Keanu unfortunately has plenty of downsides that slam it down as well. The Anna Faris story was an unnecessary sub-plot that seemed weirdly out of place. It was stretched beyond limit, something that lets you see the emptiness in its shoddy editing. Then when they try to justify it in the end, its revelation is equally stupid.
Even though you might say looking at the Hi-C story, the one played by Tiffany Haddish that you didn't see that coming, it was something that impoverished the original theme Keanu was trying to rail on. The Allentown brothers story also seemed promising from the prologue but it ends up going nowhere.
There isn't constant humour running in the veins of Keanu that will fail to put you into fits of laughter. Even though you realize at the end of it how little were those laughable bits in the movie, it still has aplenty to make the movie interesting and engaging.
THE FINAL VERDICT
Keanu is saved and uplifted mostly by Key & Peele and its great meaningful direction. The rest is kind of really thin. When it comes to being a 'gangsta' (or um 'gangster' is the way to say it but I usually see it spelled the former way), people tend to come in that lingo of "H.A.M" (Hard as a Moter-effer). If you want to be part of a crew doing things like slinging drugs or hanging in the back of a strip club, you got to have a walk, you got to have the right talk, you got to know that guns will be part of it and probably doing drugs from time to time as well (and if you got to plug a few people along the way, well, all the better for street cred). But this is also something we see a lot in movies and television (even, of course, The Wire had its gangster elements in a strip club/drug slinging world), and it's very much in both a real world context and the movies in tandem that Key and Peele come in with their characters in the extremely, surprisingly funny Keanu.
The trailer promises some fish-out-of-water fun, where the comedy duo (coming to movies for the first time following a successful Comedy Central series also skewering race and pop culture in expert ways), playing basically middle-class dorks, have to descend into the criminal underworld of the 17th Street Blips (you can find them on 17th Street, naturally) in order to retrieve Peele's character's cat dubbed the title character (posters for other Warner brothers HAM classics like Heat and New Jack City, the latter being ironic for a couple of reasons, don his walls). There were a couple of things I knew I could expect - George Michael jokes to be sure, though not quite to the extent where Key gets the others in the gangster crew, well, into that s*** - but I didn't expect that they could keep up the humor throughout. They can, and they do.
I think what helps is that you believe this action-thriller movie world. It has an authenticity not unlike Hot Fuzz; this is made by people who, I suspect, really love these scuzzy, ultra-violent action flicks (and the whole angle of the cat comes from John Wick, albeit it's not quite *that* violent, few things are). There's an affection that seeps through, and it's also telling a story that makes it so that Key and Peele aren't just one ting throughout. They can both be comic relief or they can be the straight guy; something in a scene or happening just before it will trigger one of them to get even 'more' into character. That last part is a lot of what drives the humor, and it helps that a) they commit to these 'characters' within their characters, and b) there are other "roles" being played by others. With the exception of Method Man's Cheddar, almost none of the major or supporting characters is quite who they seem to be.
This is also a joy when you watch Tarantino flicks, though here the tone's more like a Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle: the tone is constantly irreverent, and often the laughs - massive ones, from the guts many times over - come from these guys being funny together, having perfect timing, and that they keep on coming up against greater and more dangerous obstacles (i.e. those two silent creepy killers that set the chain of events in the film at the start). But the strain of satire on class and culture is the other thing keeping the comedy and even the action fresh and alive.
The attention to how ridiculous these movies can get is one thing (again, Hot Fuzz), and some of the casting helps a great deal with that (two words: Anna Faris, good God she nearly steals the show, but just nearly). But I can't help but keep thinking about how it's so fresh to see what it means to be "black" (in quotes, certainly) in culture and in the movies and then reflected back in life again. Showing just a smidgen of being a dork is a no-no, but what's refreshing is how the others in the van start bopping their heads to George Michael and one of them gets a tattoo with his name (!) It commits to everything it's going for.
In other words, in Keanu being a H.A.M. drug-slinging killer may be one thing, and acting like it is another, and to be both is worth a lot of comedy (especially when it comes to these guys when they, you know, get to having to deal with things like guns that they're clearly over their head with). How does one get into that mind-set? Watch a lot of movies and try to make sure one curbs the Richard-Pryor-imitating a-white-guy-voice. And if there's a cuter thing than Keanu in movies this year then I'll have to resign as a film critic and get one myself! Visceral action (including an opening sequence that masterfully sets the tone for the rest of the film); a sharply written and directed script; rich, dynamic characters; and, as promised, the world’s cutest cat (other than yours if you have one) combine to create a gut-busting, endearing, salty-sweet, and highly re-watchable comedy. No, Keanu the cat is not harmed at any point in the movie, even when humans are getting hurt or killed around him. a5c7b9f00b
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