Comedians Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have been around for quite a while now, having recently wrapped up their hit sketch show “Key & Peele” just last year. It was a show that I had only seen bits and pieces of, delivering only a moderate amount of laughs in the process, but with their popularity, it seemed only natural to give these two a movie of their own to see if their comedic skills could transfer over to the big screen. The result is “Keanu,” a film that is destined to be very divisive, depending on your tolerance for the comedic duo’s level of humor.
Rell Williams (Jordan Peele) has recently gone through a devastating breakup with his girlfriend, but finds a new purpose in life when an adorable kitten, who has just escaped from a shootout at a drug factory, shows up at his door. While he and his cousin, Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key), are out one night, his apartment is broken into and the kitten (the titular Keanu) is taken. Rell is once again devastated, but with his cousin’s help, he sets out to find his furry friend. This leads them to a gang boss by the name of Cheddar (Method Man), who has Keanu, and is willing to give him up if Rell and Clarence assist in a drug sale, mistakenly thinking that they are hardcore killers. With Rell willing to do whatever it takes to get Keanu back, he talks Clarence into it, but as expected, they soon find themselves way in over their heads.
“Keanu” is the kind of comedy that doesn’t try to aim very high when it comes to the level of humor it’s going for. That’s not saying that it aims as low as Sandler humor, but rather that it just doesn’t try very hard at all to be creative in the kind of comedy that they pack into the film. In fact, it wouldn’t even be accurate to say that they “pack” the film with comedy, for most of the film is one long, continuous, and unfunny joke that consists of Rell and Clarence trying to act like they are hardcore gangsters, when in fact they’re really just regular guys.
Ultimately, this is what becomes the film’s major issue, for when you take an ineffective joke and try to use it over and over again, it goes from being just slightly annoying to extremely irritating. It would be different if it were a funny running joke that defined the film (like the one found in “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil”), but here it merely comes off as desperate as both Key and Peele try their hardest to make it work. By the time you finally get to the end of the film, you’ve been forced to witness this same joke far too many times, which just goes to show how little thought and effort were put into the script.
As far as the underlying story goes, it’s really not that bad. It makes you feel for Rell’s situation, especially when his kitten gets abducted, though it might be more than a little telling that you end up caring a lot more for the kitten than you do for any of the human characters. Perhaps if the writers (Peele and Alex Rubens) had tried a little harder on the dramatic side, then the film could have been one that was a little more memorable, instead of one that has you checking your watch over and over as Key’s character makes another joke of his enjoyment of George Michael (another running joke that doesn’t gain any traction).
What we’re left with is a film that will test the patience of many people who go into it expecting anything close to a decent comedy. In truth, I laughed once during the entire duration of the film (when Peele comments that Key sounds like Richard Pryor doing an impression of a white person), and that was all. No doubt there will be those that find it funnier, depending on what your level of humor is, but even if you can get into its unending joke, it still manages to wear thin pretty quickly. In the end, all you can really do is blame the writers, for if they were going to make this a one or two joke movie, then they should have made absolutely sure that those jokes were good enough to carry an entire film.
“Keanu” comes to Blu-ray in a 2.4:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of excellent quality. The image remains perfectly clear and sharp throughout the film without a single hint of fuzziness. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is equally impressive, giving you all of the dialogue and soundtrack (ranging from heavy bass tracks to George Michael) in outstanding quality. Overall, the film has been given top-notch treatment, leaving little room for complaint.
Keanu: My First Movie (3 Minutes): A completely pointless inclusion that has the cast giving advice to Keanu.
Deleted Scenes (15 Minutes): A hefty portion of deleted scenes that merely shows how the film could have been stretched out even more.
Gag Reel (6 Minutes): A collection of outtakes that aren’t worth sitting through.
“Keanu” aims low for its attempts at humor, but even then it fails to hit its mark almost all of the time. Its dependence on unfunny running jokes just goes to show its desperation and lack of inspiration, all resulting in a film that becomes a trial of patience as you wait for the 90 minutes to come to an end. There was a semi-interesting idea for a story here. It’s just a shame that it got buried in a comedy that lacked any thoughtful humor.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
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