You know how lazy, uninspired, and utterly pointless Ride Along 2 was? Well Keanu is the complete opposite. Now here’s a buddy comedy that’s full of sharp dialog, inventive setups, and legitimate effort. The chemistry between our two leads is the primary reason why this film works, though. Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key have of course done great work together on their Comedy Central series. Not all sketch comedy performers can successfully make the leap from television to feature film. Just look at most SNL cast members throughout history. Much like Amy Schumer in last year’s Trainwreck, however, Key and Peele turn in a strong star vehicle with Keanu.
In addition to co-writing the screenplay with Alex Rubens, Peele also stars as Rell. After a bad breakup, Rell is ready to curl up in a ball with his bong and die. Then his life is suddenly given new purpose upon finding the world’s most adorable kitty. He takes the fluffy feline in and names him Keanu. When Keanu is kidnapped, however, Rell prepares for a hardcore game of cat and mouse. Along with his cousin Clarence (Key), the animal lover tracks the catnappers down to a bar run by drug dealers. The two thus go undercover to retrieve Keanu, putting on stereotypical gangbanger personas.
While the premise alone is already pretty hysterical, matters only get more outrageous as the guys dig themselves deeper and deeper into trouble. Rell and Clarence go to insane lengths to save their darn cat, assisting in numerous felonies. They aren’t the only ones that want Keanu either. Our main characters encounter various violent criminals that find the little kitten irresistible and are willing to go to war for him. There are times when the filmmakers risk making the humor a little too dark, but they never go overboard like The Hangover sequels. Even when people are getting gunned down over a cat, it’s all in good fun.
Peele and Key are a hoot as always, but the film also delivers a few memorable supporting performances. Will Forte is a ton of fun as a pathetic drug dealer, Tiffany Haddish does nice work as a gang member Rell takes a liking too, and Anna Ferris gives one of her funniest performances as Anna Faris. Of course the scene-stealer here is Keanu himself. As charismatic as he is cute, he just might be cinema’s finest feline star.
While Keanu is consistently funny, it never quite becomes a comedic masterpiece. There are certain bits that go on for a few minutes too long. Other bits aren’t quite as humorous as they could’ve been, such as a cameo from the one and only Keanu Reeves. For every scene that lags, though, there’s a hilarious one-liner waiting around the corner. Peter Atencio’s direction if full of kinetic energy and the script works in several inspired twists. Even if the film isn’t one giant laugh after another, you will find yourself laughing A LOT. For Key and Peele’s first big screen outing together as leads, it’s the cat’s meow.