Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key, a duo who brought a refreshing, sharp sketch humor show to Comedy Central, have finally taken the leap to the big screen in “Keanu.”
In their first team-up on the silver screen, Peele plays Rell while Key portrays Clarence. The two are average “everymen” who live relatively safe, good lives. The movie picks up with Rell who, while trying to get over a bad breakup, ends up finding a small kitten and names it Keanu.
After brightening his life for a while, Rell finds his home broken into and his kitten gone. In response, Rell and Clarence decide to try and find the cat. Unfortunately, it turns out that those that kidnapped the kitten was a dangerous Los Angeles gang, forcing Rell and Clarence to infiltrate that world.
“Keanu” is structured on two pillars in a way, using story elements of the average Joe that gets in trouble, like “Let’s Be Cops” from 2014, as well as taking a sketch comedy idea and stretching it out to a feature length picture.
The result is a movie that while funny, still encounters its share of pitfalls. Mainly, as the action and the danger of being in the gang become more prevalent, the humor starts to get a little overshadowed. This isn’t to say the action moments in the second half of the movie didn’t work, in fact some of the over-the-top sequences were fun.
However, they didn’t provide the great comedy that the interactions and banter between Key and Peele delivered in the first half.
Another issue the movie experienced was some of the jokes being stretched too thin. One example is a musical artist Key’s character is a fan of and another was a moment where Peele interacted with a celebrity cameo. After some time, both started feeling overdone.
With all that said, when the humor was on point, “Keanu” was on par with any comedy movie out there. While having some lulls, the script did still include some humor that was really sharp resulting in major laughs.
Another strength, quite obviously, was the collaboration of Key and Peele. Both as comedians and actors, the level of chemistry they have on screen rivals that of comedy duos such as Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz).
Their interactions always play out well, with each allowing their strengths to shine through and they both have superb comedic timing.
I’m excited about the future of Key and Peele in feature films and with some tighter stories they can really rule Hollywood comedy. Regarding “Keanu,” though, there’s still some progress to be made. The second and third acts could’ve just used a little less action and more banter with its two stars and more variety in the jokes could have gone a ways, too. 3 out of 5.