Movie Review - Keanu

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are a comedy duo known as Key & Peele, mainly due to their Emmy-winning TV series Key & Peele. Key is 45 and from Detroit. Peele is 37 and from New York City. The two first worked together on the sketch show MADtv. This is their first feature film together. Peele is the co-writer but both star. As they've done in their series, they play with black culture and black identity here. At one point, posters for New Jack City and Heat are on the wall, and it seems as if Key & Peele are targeting black culture and identity as it relates to crime drama in those kinds of movies. It's mixed with this ridiculous premise that's practically a spoof of The Maltese Falcon (1941). Instead of a bejeweled statue, the MacGuffin in question is an adorable kitten.

Jordan Peele plays Rell, a photographer in Los Angeles who's a bit depressed. One day, a kitten shows up on his doorstep. He immediately falls in love with it and decides to use it for a calendar that mocks famous movies, a cat calendar. When his apartment is ransacked and his kitten is kidnapped, he tracks it down and learns the cat is in the middle of a gang war between two drug gangs. He has to get the cat back and survive the gang war.

Keegan-Michael Key plays Clarence, the older cousin of Rell who is married with a daughter. His wife and child aren't crucial to the plot. They're rather after thoughts. Initially, he's a guy who doesn't have fun or let loose. He's a bit stiff. Later, he's basically mocked for acting white. It comes across as him identifying with white culture. For example, he likes George Michael and is constantly listening to the song "Faith."

For the most part, the movie is a remake or riff of something like Strictly Business (1991). By the end, it descends and becomes no better than Kevin Hart in Ride Along (2014). We see two characters who have no way of surviving an intense shootout. Tons of bullets are flying back-and-forth around them. Psychotic killers abound. They're terrified and stumbling their way to narrowly escaping death. It feels like Shaun of the Dead (2004) in that regard.

But, in Shaun of the Dead, there was an arc or trajectory for the characters. There was character development. This movie has no character development. This movie seems to have it in mind, but throws the focus off Rell and Clarence and onto its supporting cast. Its supporting cast is fine, but more development of the Rell and Clarence characters would have been appreciated. Key & Peele just resort to the same shtick of suburban or dorky guy pretending to be "street" or thug. There's not much reason to care about them.

Besides seeing how far the silly premise will go, there's not much funny to this either. Even Key & Peele feel like they're just going through the motions. There's not much effort or challenge put into this.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated R for violence, language, drug use and sexuality / nudity.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 39 mins.


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