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“Keanu” gives Key and Peele a cinematic showcase

There seems to be a bit of a pipeline that exists between Comedy Central stars and cinematic success over the past decade or so. From seeing Steve Carell move from The Daily Show to a hit film in The 40 Year Old Virgin to Amy Schumer moving from Inside Amy Schumer to last year’s terrific movie Trainwreck, it’s a formula that works. Now, we have the duo of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele going from their hit show Key and Peele to the action comedy Keanu. While this isn’t nearly as strong a flick as those other examples, it’s still something pretty entertaining and well worth checking out when it opens on Friday.

The film is both an action comedy as well as a bit of a satire. After a strange opening that only makes sense later, besides introducing the kitten, we see Rell Williams (Peele) upset over the end of a relationship. Buddy Clarence Goobril (Key) plans to go comfort him, but it’s not needed once he arrives, since just beforehand, Rell has found said kitten, christening him Keanu. Life is good, but when his home is broken into and the cat is stolen, an adventure begins. Posing as gang members and hitmen, they infiltrate a drug ring and attempt to get Keanu back, finding themselves in trouble at almost every single stop. Peter Atencio directs from a script that Peele co-wrote with Alex Rubens. The cast, besides Key and Peele, includes Darrell Britt-Gibson, Will Forte, Luis Guzmán, Tiffany Haddish, Rob Huebel, Nia Long, Jason Mitchell, Jamar Malachi Neighbors, and more. It’s all centered around Key and Peele, obviously, who pull double duty as other characters here as well, though everyone seems to be enjoying themselves a great deal.

Though not a perfect movie, this is worth seeing due to the occasional flashes of brilliance that it exhibits. A lot of mileage is gained by the cat being adorable and Atencio focuses on it quite a bit, but when the satire element of the production is remembered, it’s really strong. I just wish that was more consistent. The action comedy element is fine, but it’s less unique and doesn’t stand out quite as well. Key and Peele are certainly going to have more starring roles in the future (Key already is showing up in a ton of things, so he’s a bit ahead of the game), so this is just a warm up. There are flaws, but not nearly enough to be bothered by.

Going forward, I really do hope that Key and Peele continue to make hybrid works like this one. They have an eye for bringing a bit more to a subject than you’d initially expect, even if this time around there might have been concessions made to make sure an audience is there for their feature. I believe they could have an award worthy comedy in them at some point, so don’t sleep on their work. It might take some time, and obviously this isn’t their television show, but they have a skill set that will translate to the big screen for the foreseeable future.

Starting tomorrow, you all can give Keanu a look and see what Key and Peele can do on the big screen, as opposed to the small one. There are small issues that I have with this flick, but the good very much outweighs the bad. Especially if you enjoy what they’ve done in the past, this should have some appeal for you. In particular, this could very well be a tease for what they’re capable of doing next. Color me excited for their future in cinema. For now though, this is one to definitely see. It’s a good time, no question about that…

Be sure to check out Keanu, in theaters everywhere this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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