Directed by Peter Atencio.
Starring Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Method Man, Will Forte, Tiffany Haddish, Jason Mitchell, Jamar Malachi Neighbors, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Nia Long, Rob Huebel, Luis Guzman, Anna Farris, and Keanu Reeves.
Friends hatch a plot to retrieve a stolen kitten by posing as drug dealers for a street gang.
Keanu is unabashedly ludicrous, embracing a premise built on insanity from beginning to end. That’s not hyperbole either; literally from the beginning to the ending. Even as the Warner Brothers logo is displayed on-screen, the movie is already kicking into high-stakes craziness by blaring ridiculously over-the-top dramatic shootout music reminiscent of any one of your favorite classic brain-dead 90s action films. In this situation however, is a kitten so cute that when the word “cute” is looked up in the dictionary, a picture of Keanu should be accompanied. Mysterious hardened gangsters donning pitch black cloaks run up walls and do back flips while shooting drug dealers in slow motion, all while this wide-eyed adorable little critter can be caught scurrying along, miraculously avoiding getting caught in the crossfire.
It doesn’t matter if a character is a regular average Joe or a murderous street veteran; everyone loves Keanu. It’s not exactly subtle social commentary, but it most definitely has something to do with our cultural obsession with pretty much anything related to cats. Their cuteness can crack the toughest of psychologically tough exteriors, making the movie all the more ridiculous and flat-out fun to watch unfold. The motive behind pretty much everything anyone does in Keanu is for ownership of the titular cat, but the better question is, who wouldn’t? I’m sure you undoubtedly see silly cat videos on your Facebook feed all the time and think to yourself “this is some highly amusing shit that has brightened my day and made me happier”, so yes, you would probably also go this far for Keanu.
Essentially, it goes without saying that Keanu charms each time he is on-screen and is given an ample amount of memorably adorable moments, but much of the guffawing definitely comes from Comedy Central stars Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, who superbly transition between dorky African-American nerds to fake belligerent thugs at the drop of a dime. As someone unfamiliar with their show that just recently finished up on Comedy Central, this did impress the hell out of me, but honestly probably would have did so regardless considering that their voice modifications, facial expressions (the comedic duo are constantly making absurd shocked faces whenever surviving a near-death experience), and physical mannerisms are all perfectly expressed to elicit appropriate reactions. They are a match made in heaven and already some of the most talented comedians of their generation. Keanu actually has me tempted to check out their show and see what other laugh-out-loud character creations they came up with on their rise to super-stardom.
Surprisingly, the supporting cast is also given quite a bit of hilarious material to run with. Part of rescuing Keanu involves posing as drug dealers while also teaching newcomers the criminal process, and since the characters of Key and Peele are already bumbling idiots in way over their heads, the dialogue exchanges that come from these situations will leave you laughing until it hurts. There is a 20 minute sequence that involves a celebrity cameo, a hardcore drug named “Holy Shit”, a bunch of George Michael songs, all combined with on-the-job drug dealing training, and it all might be one of the funniest things I have ever seen in a movie. There was even a point where the sequence felt like it was going on for a bit too long, but that’s until the payoff came and nearly killed me with laughter.
Keep in mind, that is one of the biggest and best comedic moments, and it doesn’t even involve Keanu, so you can only imagine just how much of a riot the rest of the movie is.
It’s also refreshing that for an R-rated comedy, the humor isn’t necessarily juvenile or lazy, but is still very adult oriented featuring loads of crude language and bloodshed. The movie consistently seems to be taking shots at both gang culture and pre-established ideas by society of what it means to be a manly human being. As mentioned, even the most despicable of people often seem to have a soft spot for an innocent little kitten. The movie knows how to crank everything it is up to maximum craziness without ever losing its surprisingly intelligent satirical touch.
If Keanu does have any flaws, it’s certainly not that the movie is ever boring. A few scenes here and there do feel a bit longer than necessary, and the movie does constantly come back to various jokes about George Michael and other things to the point where it’s beating a dead horse, but chances are you will still be laughing, and that’s of the utmost importance for a comedy. The middle portion of the movie does seem to drag a little as it goes from laugh-out-loud funny scene to laugh-out-loud funny scene, but just without making any real plot progression. Some of the narrative towards the end is also cobbled together in a jarring manner (a few characters get written out of the movie surprisingly earlier than expected), but again, it’s just hard to get to up in arms about it; the movie is so damn infectiously uproarious.
Move over Grumpy Cat, there’s a new lovable famous celebrity kitten on the scene, and his name is Keanu. Without a doubt, this will be one of the funniest movies to release in 2016, and actually one of the best parody movies to come out in ages, considering that it is a rather brilliant twist on 2014’s highly successful action film John Wick starring Keanu Reeves. You don’t need to see that movie to get any of the joke that Keanu is, which is actually quite bold for a spoof film. There is one genius homage, but outside of that Keanu is a hilarious piece of original work from the minds of Key and Peele.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★