By Michael Kaye
I never watched Key & Peele on a regular basis, but whenever I saw clips on YouTube I would be rolling on the floor laughing! Some of my favorites are the College Football East West Bowl videos, Substitute Teacher, and their parody of Les Miz. Although the show's been taken off the air since last September, that hasn't stopped the duo from working together. This is the first feature film produced by and starring Key and Peel, Keanu.
Here's the story. Clarence and Rell are two cousins who live in the city but are far from streetwise. When Rell's beloved kitten, Keanu, is catnapped, the hopelessly straight-laced pair must impersonate ruthless killers in order to infiltrate a street gang and retrieve the purloined feline.
The best way I can describe this movie would be to take the very loose premise of John Wick and combine it with 21 Jump Street. If you like both of those movies, then you're gonna have a great time with this one as well. Here are my positives and negatives.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
First thing's first, that cat is freaking adorable! I can totally understand why Keanu was so sought after by those gangsters, and how Clarence and Rell would do anything to save him.
But seriously, this had an awesome cast. Key and Peele, having worked together for well over a decade during their time on MADtv, work incredibly well off each other, as well as with the rest of the cast. This is only the second time I've seen Jason Mitchell on the big screen, and I'm amazed how great his comedic timing can be. This guy definitely has a long career ahead of him. Method Man plays Chedder, the leader of the "Blips," outcasts of both the Bloods and the Crips. He's effective at playing both badass and incompetent at the same time, especially during the climax. Finally we got Tiffany Haddish as Hi-C, Rell's love interest and undercover cop.
The film was directed Peter Atencio, best known for directing several episodes of Key & Peele. Obviously he's very familiar with the comedy duo's sensibilities, but he also knows how to translate their style of humor successfully into a 90 minute action comedy, at least for the most part. Not all the jokes stick their landing, but when they hit, they hit hard, and they'll probably be enjoyed the most with a big crowd. And as an action movie, I found it rather compelling. As I said, I'm not completely familiar with the show, but I do know that Key & Peele are very good at satirizing all sorts of different genres, and this one just seemed like a piece of cake.
Finally, music is actually an important plot point in the film, and one that will probably get the most laughs. Keegan-Michael Key's character Clarence is a huge fan of George Michaels, and while he's on his mission, he introduces the rest of the gang his music, which ultimately has a positive effect on them later in the film.
This is a strange criticism to have, but one I have to address. There were times during the movie where the satire was almost too good. There weren't enough jokes to cover up some of the more frustrating clichés such as "the liar revealed."
Keanu is most certainly a fun film for both fans of Key & Peele, as well as action/gangster films. I'll admit, I was a little worried that the humor from the TV show wouldn't translate well enough on the big screen, but they pulled it off fairly well. I'm looking forward to more films from the comedy duo in the future, whether it be the big screen adaptation of their Substitute Teacher sketch, or their roles in Warner Animation Group's next film Storks!
Now I wanna hear from you! Do you plan on seeing Keanu this weekend, and what are your favorite Key & Peele sketches? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and as always, stay tuned for more content coming your way!