Classic Review: Keanu (2016)

Since I’ve started this site, I’ve written a lot of reviews. In case you missed some of my earlier ones, I would like to share an older review of “Keanu” which originally appeared here.

Recently dumped by his girlfriend, slacker Rell (Jordan Peele) finds some happiness when a cute kitten winds up on his doorstep. After a heartless thief steals the cat, Rell recruits his cousin Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) to help him retrieve it. They soon learn that a thug named Cheddar (Method Man) has the animal, and he’ll only give it back if the two men agree to work for him. Armed with guns and a gangster attitude, it doesn’t take long for the hapless duo to land in big trouble.

I will admit that I am not the most familiar with the works of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele (or Key and Peele as how they are often referred by) other than a few of their sketches on Youtube but I am familiar with their individual work. When I heard they were making the film, I was interested. When I saw the trailer, I was excited. The story seemed very original to me and I was wondering where they would go with the cute cat.

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The story is here is of a slacker named Rell (Peele) who got recently dumped by his girlfriend. He soons finds happiness under the form of a cute kitten who one day ends up on his doorstep which he then names Keanu. When a thief steals Keanu, Rell calls upon his cousin Clarence (Key) to help him recover him. Later they learn that a thug named Cheddar (Method Man) has him and will only give him back if the two men agree to work for him. Now entrenched in gangster culture, it doesn’t take long for them to get in big trouble.

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Without giving anything away, I will start off by saying that I know what you’re probably thinking and the answer is yes. I don’t think it would surprise anyone to hear that Key and Peele are cousins here as their bond was very obvious here. Both actors have great chemistry in real life and this continued on screen here. This made them very fun to watch as they played well off of each other in which I assume some of it may have been improvised. There were also a lot of opportunities here for this as they were in just about every scene (all the pictures are of them). Because of this, the film depended greatly on their relationship and it did not disappoint.

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Instead of introducing the characters which are just extensions of both main actors themselves (thy kind of gave each of them a little background but it didn’t really matter plot-wise), they went straight into the main plot and flowed nicely from there. The rest of the film focused on the quest to get Keanu back and didn’t offer much else in terms of character development but it didn’t matter to me. The film didn’t really have much going on here as it was just Rell and Clarence trying to act “thuggish” in order to infiltrate Cheddar’s gang. That was okay as this was hilarious. Their real characters are totally unlike the characters they were trying to play and this worked for me.

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What worried me initially was that when they became gang members was that they and the rest of the gang would be caricatures but they didn’t. Thanks to the smart script (co-written by Peele) their depictions of gang members, as well as those who were already part of the gang, felt more like parodies of gang movies and gang culture (they use gang movies as inspiration). Sure the other gang members weren’t very deep characters but they did their job here being real people, instead of caricatures. They also had great chemistry with Key and Peele and each other so those scenes were fun to watch as well. This was the clearest in a scene involving a minivan and some George Michael. This film definitely had a lot of George Michael references which kind of reminded me of how much I liked his music.

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In addition to being a comedy, there is also some action to be had. I found it to be well done for the most part and did not feel out of place with everything else here. Fans of action films will definitely find a lot to like here. You’ll find all the usual stuff here with lots of shooting and car chases. Key and Peele also partake in the action which was interesting to see. What I found kind of weird about this film was the end. While watching, I counted several moments where the film could have ended but instead went on a little longer. The fact that the film is not very long (clocking in at 98 minutes) aggravated this.

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Overall, this was a hilarious, original smart film which comedy and action fans should both enjoy. Also the cat is really cute.

Score: 8.5/10

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