Take one part “Key and Peele,” add the appeal of an internet cat video and you have “Keanu,” the new kitty caper comedy from Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. The big screen debut of the sketch comedians isn’t purrfect but it has some furry funny moments.
At the beginning of the movie the Allentown Brothers (the heavily made-up Key and Peele) shoot up a drug lab, killing everyone inside. The only survivor is a kitten who makes a run for it, escaping the carnage and who, after a trek across Los Angeles, ends up at the doorstep of stoner photographer Rell (Peele). It’s fortuitous for both of them. The kitten needs a home and Rell, who was just dumped by his girlfriend, desperately needs a companion. By the time Rell’s pal, family man Clarence (Key) stops by, the lonely guy has bonded with the cat, now named Keanu. When Keanu is stolen in a burglary these two button-down guys take a walk on the wild side, tracking down Keanu’s new owner, gang leader Cheddar (Method Man). Taking the street names Shark Tank and Techtonic they infiltrate the gang, take drugs (“It’s like you’re smoking crack with God!”), get shot at and rescue the cat. “We in the market right now for a gangster pet.”
The SPCA is going to love “Keanu.” The cat hero isn’t exactly the main character, he’s more of an excuse for the action, but he may be the most memorable film feline since Blofeld’s cat. The stars of the show are Key and Peele who bring the strengths of their sketch show to the movie. Key’s facility with voices and words coupled with Peele’s elastic face keep things interesting in what is essentially a skit stretched to feature length.
Unlike me, who couldn’t resist some terrible cat puns while writing this review, K&P don’t go looking for the “purrpatrator” of the crime or anything like that. Instead the movie is a mix of down ‘n dirty jabs—for instance, the local strip club is called Hot Party Vixens or HPV—fish out of water gags, a brilliant celebrity cameo and a fixation on George Michael that borders on the pathological. Throw in a few shoot outs and some quirky characters—thanks to Will Forte as Rell’s pot dealer and Jason Mitchell as gang member Bud—and you have a movie that aspires to be a spiritual cousin of 80s action comedies like “Beverly Hills Cop” or “48 Hours.” It doesn’t quite scale those heights but there are enough laughs to keep things interesting, especially if you are a cat lover.