Combustible Celluloid
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With: Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Tiffany Haddish, Method Man, Jason Mitchell, Luis Guzman, Nia Long, Will Forte, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Jamar Malachi Neighbors
Written by: Jordan Peele, Alex Rubens
Directed by: Peter Atencio
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language throughout, drug use and sexuality/nudity
Running Time: 100
Date: 04/29/2016

Keanu (2016)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Tabby Road

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In their first feature film starring roles together, the comedy team of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele show that they can control the big screen just as well as the small one.

They have already logged many hours together on "MADtv," "Fargo," and their own show, "Key and Peele," and now the new Keanu catapults them into the company of Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Lemmon and Matthau, and Pryor and Wilder.

They are undeniably funny together, with Peele as the slightly more together straight man and Key as the outrageous, unpredictable one. They deftly play with and dodge traditional roles and stereotypes, and refuse to talk down to their audience.

Unlike other action-comedies like, say, Ride Along 2, Keanu doesn't feel lazy or forget about the jokes in the final act. Plus it has the benefit of a cute kitten.

Rell (Peele, who also co-wrote the screenplay) has just been dumped by his girlfriend, but has found a lost kitten on his doorstep and a new lease on life. Unfortunately, burglars ransack his apartment and Keanu has gone missing.

Rell and his cousin Clarence (Key) — whose wife and daughter have conveniently left town for the weekend — head out into the night to get Keanu back. They cross paths with a gangster called "Cheddar" (Method Man) and wind up helping his to deliver drugs in exchange for the kitten's return. What could go wrong?

Our two leads keep most of this plot afloat, though Will Forte gets in a few laughs as a somewhat pathetic dope dealer, who squeals when Rell threatens to break his De La Soul record.

Key and Peele seem to be largely in the moment, continually inventing laughs, dropping in and out of fake "gangster" personas, dubbed "Tectonic" (Peele) and "Shark Tank" (Key).

Their soft lifestyles clash in goofy ways with the hardcore thugs, especially when Clarence convinces several gang members that George Michael is cool, or when Rell flirts with a gangsterette called "Hi-C" (Tiffany Haddish).

In the long run, Keanu doesn't stretch or try to be anything other than funny. The characters all learn silly lessons from one another, plenty of bullets fly, and plenty of cars get smashed up.

However, many of those other aforementioned comedy teams didn't often reach the level of cinematic masterpiece, and more often, simply went to work doing what they do best. As long as it looks like the pair are enjoying each other's company, the laughs feel natural, and they don't wear out their welcome, it's a formula that works.

And a cute kitten can't hurt.

Warner Home Video's Blu-ray release comes with only deleted scenes, a gag reel, and a little featurette about the kitty. It also includes trailers/ads at startup. Sound and picture are fine.

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