“Keanu” is more of a squeal than a roar

Key and Peele star in "Keanu," a tail of a missing cat.

Key and Peele star in “Keanu,” a tail of a missing cat.

By Serena O’Sullivan/Western Sun executive editor

After five seasons of their incredibly successful comedy show called “Key and Peele,” actors and comedians Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele released their new movie “Keanu” in theaters April 29.

No, the movie is not about Keanu Reeves, but he does make a small cameo as a talking, god-like kitten during a main character’s trip on a drug called “holy shit.” If that sentence sounds strange, it’s because this is a strange movie. In fact, absurdity is the backbone of the film’s humor.

newMovie review bugThe film follows Rell (Jordan Peele), who discovers an adorable kitten named Keanu after a devastating breakup and teams up with his cousin Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) to recover the kitten from a vicious gang known as the Blips. (Blips is a mix between “Bloods” and “Crips;” the Blips were not allowed into either gang, so they started their own.) To get Keanu back, they pose as the murderous Dresden brothers, and what follows is a funny farce of a movie that will have audiences alternating between laughing and shaking their heads at the characters’ antics.

Despite the film’s starring duo, at some points the film feels more like an extended comedy skit than a movie. Even then, it comes across as a comedy skit that has gone on for too long it lost itself.

In one scene, Rell and Clarence take a group of gangsters out on a drug delivery to Anna Farris’ mansion. Director Peter Atencio delivers a long, drawn-out scene where Pat and Hi-C (Tiffany Haddish) try to coax a payment out of the high-strung and manic former actress. The whole scene seems like an inside joke to Anna Farris fans, as the scene goes nowhere: the actress threatens the gangsters with samurai swords, snorts drugs, goes on long, confused tangents, and feels painfully shoehorned into the film.

Fair Star ratingsLuckily, this scene is punctuated by funny segments of Key bonding with the other gang members back in the car. While the scene with Farris is boring and goes nowhere, Clarence bonds with the boys when his iPod starts playing George Michaels, leading to a hilarious running joke throughout the movie that culminates in one member getting a George Michaels tattoo on his stomach.

Although Keanu is so central to the film’s events, he spends little time on screen. He is either kept away in a gangster’s cage, bouncing through bloody battlefields in the background, or mewling in the backseat during a high-speed car chase.

The movie would be stronger if it explained why Keanu is so special, or why so many different gangs battle over the pet; instead he is provided as the driving force behind the protagonists’ actions, but because he is kept out of sight he is often out of mind, leaving the film’s events feeling like a loosely-connected string of happenings.

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