Review: Keanu

Review: Keanu

Imagine the funniest joke you have ever heard. Now imagine a substantially less funny version of that same joke. Now imagine a standup routine where the comedian essentially repeated that joke for 90 minutes. That, in essence, is what this is. If you watch the trailer, you have essentially seen the bits of this movie that work. They aren't necessarily side-splittingly funny, but they are clever enough. Stretched out over the course of a feature length film, however, they are much less so. 

 Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

The movie starts with a slow-motion action sequence that sets all of the events in motion. A pair known as the Allentown Boys (like the main characters, played by Keagan Michael Key and Jordan Peele) get into a shootout with a drug organization operating out of a church. During the shootout, the Allentown Boys quickly fall for an adorable kitten named Keanu, before the cat is able escape the scene. Keanu then makes his way to the doorstep of Rell (played by Peele). One half of the duo that drives the action in the movie. 

Rell falls in love with this cat and is devastated when a drug robbery gone wrong results in the cat going missing. He teams up with cousin Clarence (played by Key) to find the cat, which leads them to a gang called the Blips (a combination of Bloods and Crips), who have adopted the cat as their own. To get the cat back, Rell and Clarence have to pose as the Allentown Boys and help the gang with a drug deal. The bulk of the movie is spent trying to earn the cat back in this way. 

 Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

In order to fit in with the gang, Clarence and Rell adopt hardcore personas "Tectonic" and "Shark Tank." Just about every joke in the film is some play on this idea that these black people, Clarence and Rell, aren't like these other black people, the Blips. And while they take stabs at challenging the idea of black masculinity and what it means to be black, the "code-switching" routine wears thin. The voice Clarence adopts initially provoked a chuckle. When the voice is still the source of the joke an hour later, what little humor there was has long been wrung out of that joke. 

Key and Peele are hilarious as a duo. Watching their mannerisms and interactions is funny in and of itself. That the underlying material here gave them almost nothing to work with is unfortunate. Compounding the tragedy is some of the other talent that is also wasted here. Jason Mitchell follows up his widely praised turn as Eazy-E in last year's Straight Outta Compton with this role where he is almost entirely wasted. Tiffany Haddish plays one of the Blips, Hi-C, and aside from the movie coming off the rails in Act III, she has very little impact on the story. 

 Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Comedy is pretty much entirely subjective. It is certainly possible you will find this movie truly funny. I just didn't. I sincerely wish I was hilarious. If I was, I could tell you how to fix this movie, but I'm not, so I can't. All I can say is that around the halfway mark, what starts as a so-so joke stops landing entirely. Theres some after the credits nonsense here if you are into that kind of thing. But if your theater is anything like the one I saw this in, no one will be curious enough to stick around. 

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