Doubleback Review: Keanu
I can't tell you a single thing about "Key and Peele."
I was pretty unfamiliar with it before last week, as I was browsing the internet. I came across a list that Rolling Stone magazine had compiled. They created a massive poll where they invited several guests to vote on the 100 Best TV shows of all-time. I always love reading ambitious lists like this, so I decided to give it a try. I found that "Key and Peele" was among the 100 voted as the best TV shows of all time, made by critics and people in the television business. That's a huge praise, and so I put it on my mental list of things to watch ASAP. Now, after viewing "Keanu," my interest in the "Key and Peele" show has just skyrocketed.
Jordan Peele plays Rell, a slacker who loves smoking weed and just lost his girlfriend. His biggest friend seems to be his Clarence (Keegan Micheal-Key), who tries to help him through his new crisis. But what really gets Rell out of his slump, is a cute kitten who suddenly appears at his doorstep. Its a connection at first sight and Rell decides to keep the cat, naming him Keanu. Little does Rell know that "Keanu" belongs to gangsters, who died in a shootout as the film opens, and the cat escaped to Rell's apartment after the siege. When thieves break into Rell's home while Rell and Clarence are out, they take Keanu. This pushes Rell to go look for his new friend, and he recruits a reluctant Clarence to help him. Their investigation brings them in the underworld of gangs and crimes, they try their best to look the part as they stay on the hunt for Keanu.
One thing that makes the film really funny is just how awkward Key and Peele are. There is a scene when the duo goes to meet ruthless gang leader Cheddar (Method Man), and the scene plays out as Rell and Clarence try to prove that they are criminals themselves. The scene works because the actors make us feel their fear, cowardice and awkward behavior. They are way over their heads, and that translates perfectly to the audience. There are seemingly thousands of other scenes like this throughout the entire movie and each time, Key and Peele prove that they are a kinetic comedy duo. It also helps that Key and Peele do a good job of transforming these two men into characters. Each man is given a wee subplot which both men excel at selling. What's also amazing is that Keanu the cat actually becomes a character in his own right. The moments the cat steps up for a scene is quite frankly, priceless.
Not only does the film work as a comedy, but its actually a pretty fun action movie. There aren't too many action scenes throughout the entire movie, but when the violence kicks in, it has perfect comic action timing. Its a perfect blend of action and big, massive laughs.
What could have been a throwaway gimmick of a comedy creates a crazy comedy with a big heart. There are good performances all around, including Method Man, Luis Guzman and a wacky appearance by Anna Faris playing herself. All the routes pointed to this film being cheesy or disappointing, and "Keanu" delivered neither, its a true crowd-pleaser.
FINAL GRADE: B+