‘Keanu’ – Film is a goofy, entertaining crime comedy

Keegan-Michael Key (left) as Clarence and Jordan Peele as Rell appear alongside the titular kitten in a scene from "Keanu." (AP)

Everyday heroes can be found in all places in “Keanu,” a goofy crime comedy from Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, in the style of their Comedy Central series, “Key and Peele.” Directed by Peter Atencio, the film follows Key and Peele as an average duo pushed into an outrageous and dangerous situation as

Timothy Hogg

Timothy Hogg

they attempt to rescue an adorable kitten from drug dealers.

Rell (Peele) is trying to get over a harsh breakup when he finds the world’s cutest kitten, Keanu, on his doorstep. Rell’s cousin, Clarence (Key), comes over to cheer Rell up with a weekend of fun, but their plans are soon thrown in a loop. Returning from a movie, they discover that Keanu has been stolen by a street gang led by Cheddar (Method Man) and Hi-C (Tiffany Haddish). Now, Rell and Clarence must pretend to be a pair of drug dealers in a desperate ploy to steal back Keanu, unaware that the murderous gangsters they are impersonating also want the kitten.

With an absurd premise and equally outlandish characters, “Keanu” manages a successful union of comedy and story. Granted, the story is not outstanding and much of it feels recycled from previous crime-related comedies, but it is intended as a simple vector to be filled with the humorous talent of Key and Peele. Whether one is familiar with their comedy television series or not, the two easily leap into their contrasting yet compatible roles. Their antics keep an otherwise stale plotline fresh with witty, comedic banter.

However, their brand of comedy creates the impression that the film is not a single large story; rather, it feels like a series of skits and situations that just happen to share an overarching plot. This is not inherently a bad thing, and certainly doesn’t detract from the overall amount of funny jokes, but it is somewhat distracting and leaves a few loose ends that can be easily noticed by the audience. Several subplots within the story are given a lot of focus, only to be untimely ignored or summed up with a single line or throw-away joke.

But despite the problems, the humor itself is rather solid. As a comedic duo, Key and Peele have excellent chemistry, and almost all of their jokes – some of which get rather dark given the film’s R-rated subject matter – are delivered successfully, many of them funnier than the previous ones. The only true downside to the comedy is that, again due to the structured, skit-like nature, it sometimes feels like too much time passes between each joke. However the film does manage to tie everything together nicely as it shifts into a fast-paced, ridiculous climax.

Utilizing a refreshing take on an otherwise dull story, Key and Peele’s “Keanu,” from director Peter Atencio, provides a humorous outing that gradually weaves its staggered plot together. While the film does occasionally feel more like a series of skits, Key and Peel’s comedy properly combines these differing narrative threads. The result is a layered crime parody with enough outlandish moments to keep the audience laughing.

My grade: 6.5 out of 10 stars.

(Timothy Hogg is a copy editor for The Derrick./The News-Herald. He has a minor in film and media studies from Slippery Rock University. Readers may contact him by email at timothyhogg.thederrick@gmail.com.)