Richard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliot talk about the weekend’s big releases, the comedy of “Keanu,” the maudlin humour of “Mother’s Day,” the kid’s sci fi of “Ratchet & Clank,” the punk rock fury of “Green Room” and the b-movie action of “Precious Cargo.”
Richard and “Canada AM” host Beverly Thomson kick around the weekend’s big releases. They find out if “Keanu,” the kitten caper movie from Key & Peele is worth a look, if “Mother’s Day” is more than a Hallmark card come to the screen and if “Ratchet & Clank’s” good messages for kids make it a good movie.
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.
“The Whistler Film Festival was the first opportunity I got to sit in a room with strangers and have them watch the movie and I was very nervous going into it,” says comedian Brent Butt about his new film No Clue.
In the film he stars as Leo, a mild mannered Vancouver tchotchke salesman lured into a murder mystery by a femme fatale played by Amy Smart. “It’s a very dark, classic kind of detective mystery but the main characters say funny things,” says Butt.
“We really felt, totally objectively, that we made the movie we wanted to make but that part of my brain that is the stand up comic said, ‘What you think doesn’t really matter. The audience will let you know,’ and the audience is everything to me.
“Long before Corner Gas came around I was just a greasy nightclub comic, out there getting it done. When you are doing that you always have the ability to shift gears. You think, ‘They’re not buying the sports stuff so I’ll talk about politics,’ but with this movie if they’re not liking it five minutes in you can’t say, ‘Everybody go get a drink. I’m going to reedit this.’ You are locked in.”
Audience reaction was “better than we ever could have imagined” for a movie he calls a “tricky balancing act.”
“I wanted to make a movie that if it wasn’t funny would still be entertaining. It would still be thrilling and a mystery and have all those good, juicy elements and then the funny kind of folds in like gravy. It’s on top of everything else.
“From the writing stand point there were a lot of funny jokes I neglected to put in the movie because I felt this is funny but it is ultimately going to damage the reality. For this movie to work it has to feel real. One of the things we did early on was tell everybody to forget that this is a comedy. Pretend you are making a dark murder mystery. That’s what this is. The comedy will come in elsewhere.”
Butt cites a famous example of the kind of film he wanted to make.
“Beverly Hills Cop was written not to be a funny movie. It was written to be a thriller and then they cast Eddie Murphy and said, ‘Let’s make it funny.’ But if you take all the funny things that Eddie says out, it still holds water as an action movie.”