I believe that Key and Peele is one of the best modern comedy shows out there, and that Keegan-Michael Key/Jordan Peele are two of the best comedians in the business. As you could probably imagine, I have anticipated their first movie for quite a while. This marks the fifth(?) comedy of the year starring/produced by black people, and since we already saw the best one (Barbershop: The Next Cut), it’s time to lower expectations. Believe me, I wanted to love this movie, but that is simply not the case. It’s time to explain why.
Keanu is directed by Peter Atencio and written by Alex Rubens and Jordan Peele. Stars-Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Will Forte, Method Man, and Tiffany Haddish. Premise-A man helps his heartbroken friend get his pet cat back from street thugs by posing as assassin drug dealers.
This movie has many problems that I have not talked about before, so it’s gonna be somewhat difficult to explain. Let’s start with the performances. Key and Peele play up their shtick, and most of the time it gets a laugh. Will Forte pretty much plays his “Phil Miller” character from The Last Man on Earth, and the rest of the cast is passable. There is a “new drug” subplot that goes absolutely nowhere, and a “relationship crisis” subplot that is incredibly weak. The score is very distracting (mostly because it’s like an angelic choir track set on repeat), and there is an incredibly cheap Dues ex Machina at the end of the climax that actually makes some earlier scenes in the movie completely pointless.
I was not expecting this movie’s comedy to be as consistent as Hot Fuzz or as constantly funny as Dumb and Dumber, but I at least expected it to be consistent in some sense of the word! Sometimes a scene will be laugh-out-loud hilarious, others will be bereft of humor, and others will be moderately funny. Each scene drags on because each scene is either building up to one joke, or just making one joke (which makes the movie itself feel overlong). This kind of comedy would only work in a sketch comedy show, because they are shorter and don’t typically have an overarching plot. Movies have narratives, and comedy movies need to have many different jokes in most of the scenes. I’ll give the writers the benefit of the doubt and say that because they have not made a movie before, they don’t quite know how to write for a movie. Another trope of comedy sketches is making them very over-the-top and ridiculous, which is what Keanu does. While they structure these scenes very well (and sometimes take advantage of them), the jokes they make out of these scenes are not the best. I was expecting the clever, witty, unexpected, and weird, punchlines of Key and Peele, but most of the time we get an obvious, or “didn’t require much thought,” joke. Bear in mind, sometimes they do make the most of the situation, just not nearly enough. To be fair, the cat was very well directed, and there are some cool references here and there.
I am a little biased in my judgements to this movie because I love Key and Peele and the artists behind it. This movie has its moments, but it has many problems which cannot be ignored. But considering that this is their first movie, I think they did a decent job. Keanu gets Guy’s Guru Grade of a B.