“Key and Peele prove that they can make just about anyone laugh”

by Rachel Wilford

I walked into Keanu having zero expectations and came out pleasantly surprised. While the film’s premise is absurd and nonsensical, the film as a whole was actually fairly enjoyable and hilarious throughout, and I left with a pretty substantial ache in my cheeks.

Keanu is the story of a kitten named Keanu that escapes from a drug cartel and eventually finds his way to Rell (Jordan Peele), who has just been dumped by his girlfriend. Rell is immediately taken with Keanu and is quickly cured by the kitten’s companionship. Some weeks later, Rell and his cousin, Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key), arrive back at Rell’s house after a night out to discover that the house has been ransacked and Keanu is missing. Rell is desperate to find his furry friend and after some sleuthing, he and Clarence eventually discover that a local gang has Keanu. The two come up with gangster aliases for themselves and make a deal with the gang to sell drugs in exchange for the kitten.

The film was exactly like a really long sketch from an episode of Key & Peele, and really I think if the film had starred any other actors it would not have worked as well as it did. Key plays the principled, utopian husband and father who ends up being a surprisingly convincing gangster, which to me, was the funniest part of the film. Watching Key, sporting khaki shorts and a tucked in checkered polo, effortlessly transform into an undercover convict was uproarious. Peele also gave a comical performance, but the success of the film really depended upon the two working together and bouncing off each other.

Directed by
Peter Atencio
Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Tiffany Haddish
Release Date
29 April 2016
Rachel’s Grade: B-

Movies such as these require a preconceived understanding from the audience that the plot is not to be taken literally and that they have to just accept the outlandishness of it all. If the audience walks into the theatre expecting a believable story about the infiltration of a gang, they will definitely be adverse to the film.

Before watching Keanu, I wasn’t sure how the farcical antics of the plot would play out, but I was pleased that there were definitely more hits than misses. While some of the comedy fell a little flat, the script was actually engaging for a great majority of the film. The film’s idea rivals similar films from previous years, such as the hit comedy 21 Jump Street as well as Let’s Be Cops (which Key actually starred in), however it does a fine job of staying fresh and original. Although if another one of these types of movies makes it to theatres, I don’t think I will be interested in reliving the same story another time.

Probably the only issue I had with this film was the fantastical elements of the plot that the audience is supposed to accept in order to enjoy the humor. Some of the scenes were borderline preposterous, and I had to hold back a few eye rolls. However, if you are a fan of this type of comedy and don’t mind an implausible plot for the sake of several belly laughs, then this is the film for you.

While Keanu may not be the most believable film at the box office, Key and Peele prove that they can make just about anyone laugh at just about anything they do on screen.