I’ve heard complaints that Keanu – the feature film debut from Comedy Central’s merry pranksters Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, just off a five-season run – is uneven, overlong and really just a cat video disguised as a movie. Yeah, maybe. But I laughed my ass off. First of all, the cat is effing adorable. And Key and Peele score big whenever director Peter Atencio and screenwriters Peele and Alex Rubens stop piling on the action-flick clichés. The pair play middle-class cousins in suburban Los Angeles. Key is Clarence, a husband and father. Peele is Rell, who needs comforting when his gf dumps his sorry, weed-smoking ass. That’s when a kitty shows up on his doorstep. It’s instant love. Rell, a John Wick superfan, calls him Keanu. He even makes a Keanu calendar by photoshopping the feline into scenes from such fave films as Fargo, The Shining, Crimson Tide and Point Break.
The thing is, Keanu has a history. He’s just escaped from a drug deal gone wrong – great, scary, bloody, funny scene. And now he’s fallen into the clutches of a gangbanger named Cheddar (Method Man) who puts Keanu in a do-rag and names him New Jack. To get Keanu back, Rell and Clarence are forced to help Cheddar pull off a certain-death job with his crew, the 17th Street Blips (a combo of Bloods and Crips). That means the two wussies need to start acting gangsta, taking street names, and making deals for a new drug called “Holy Shit,” which Cheddar says makes you feel like “you’re smokin’ crack with God.” Clearly, something was being smoked during the making of this movie. I’m not complaining.
You might notice that Keanu doesn’t figure in every scene. Big mistake. The cat is a playa. But so are Key and Peele, and it’s a kick to see them get laughs out of everything gangsta. “You sound like Richard Pryor doing an impression of a white guy,” Rell tells Clarence. Snap. And even when the laughs don’t always snap, Key and Peele are ready with another one or a dozen that do. These dudes really are the cat’s meow.