With Keanu — a rather affectionate title to one Keanu Reeves who not only kicks butt but is also cute as a button — comedy duo Keegan Michael-Key and Jordan Peele have achieved something of a light absurdity. Far from a zenith production or an inevitable evolution of their show, Keanu is merely a goofy time out. It’s a tale of unfortunate and wacky events, with two near clods in over their heads, entering a world they know only from movies and TV. Nothing up its sleeve, no sleight of hand, just screwy-ness.
And why can’t it be that way?
The duo has been known for their Comedy Central sketch show, where they tend to get into deep satire and commentary while doing the business of zaniness. Keanu is just zaniness. Perhaps it’s an ode to buddy comedy films of decades gone by, with characters out of their safe element, thrust into something way more complicated for their personalities to handle. The kind of movies that would star Chris Farley and David Spade, or Eugene Levy and John Candy. Harmless, but not bland. Vanilla, but flavorful.
The movie centers on a kitten who, after a Boondock Saints-style caper, ends up serendipitously at the front door of Peele, who has just suffered a romantic breakup. “That’s the cutest cat I’ve ever seen in my life!” exclaims Key, though I would argue kittens are, usually, by default, cute. And puppies. And human babies. Indeed, Keanu makes one say “awe…” just by the way it stares at you and purrs, but I could react the same way towards any animal or infant. What makes this kitten special is what it inspires out of the people it encounters, from nerds to gangsters to psychopaths.
Who doesn’t show immediate affection towards a kitty? Keanu renders even the most violent thugs defenseless and willing to defend it – by any means necessary. Drug runs, murders, kidnappings, car chases, more murders and more. Keanu remains an innocent in all of this, as the world, charmed to the heart, overwhelms itself into sheer chaos and ridiculousness.
The brunt of the comedy in Keanu stems from that and launches into how Key and Peele react to the dangerous situations they are put in. Fake bravado and stories of legend are told most awkwardly, and with clear anxiety. But, just like when encountered with Keanu, they all are willing to believe and dive into the adventure. It’s as if this kitten emits some sort of vibe that turns everyone and everything into agents of silly.
Could this be the fantasy of a playful cat?
Keanu rarely disappoints, but also rarely takes chances with its jokes. The funny is funny, but never daring or ballsy, as some may expect from them. It’s just a goofy movie — not to be confused with A Goofy Movie — that gives comedians, actors, writers and directors an excuse to get down and have a weird time. To stretch them oddball muscles. That’s all it is, and really all it needed to be.
That darn cat.
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