-This action/comedy may have its moments, but it feels too sketchy and incomplete to recommend.
From the director and stars of the popular TV sketch show ‘Key and Peele’ comes a sketch movie that feels like a TV show. Keanu is an action/comedy spoof, making light of certain over-the-top action films starring Keanu Reeves, like The Matrix or John Wick, managing to incorporate very few jokes in a two hour romp that feels often like a movie with an identity crisis.
‘Keanu’ is a stray kitten that is picked up by Rell (Jordan Peele) during a time of need. Rell’s cousin and best-bud Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) is getting a weekend away from his family when they go away with one of his daughter’s friends.
When Keanu is stolen from Rell’s house, they go on a rampage through a Los Angeles crime district, trying to get Keanu back, adapting the disguise of “The Allentown Boys,” ruthless killers that dress like they’re from the Matrix. Among the gang members are Method Man, Tiffany Haddish, and other semi-notable faces like Luis Guzman. They spend a night drug-slinging and partying, only for hilarity to ensue.
The biggest flaw in Keanu is that it’s poorly written and directed. Although the energy and likability of the main actors is enough to keep the audience engaged, the film never gets completely on its feet. While you may laugh semi-hard at one scene, you could go the next 40 minutes underwhelmed. It’s not the type of comedy that throws everything at the wall and sees what sticks, but rather relies on tone and situation to be funny, and it just never quite rises to the level of insanity that they wanted.
Sure, the film gets some mileage out of a cute cat and Key’s crazy eyes, but there’s only so many jokes that can be mined out of two suburban guys pretending to be gangsters. It doesn’t seem fresh, and when the film decides to be just an action movie, you would naturally just wish you were watching a real Keanu Reeves movie, and not a knock-off. There are sketch moments that are funny however, like when Key convinces a group of gang bangers that George Michael is excellent, or when they actually meet the real Allentown Boys.
Keanu is situationally funny, but without real jokes in the script or a consistent tone, it falls flat, and honestly, you’d get close to as many laughs out of the sheer absurdity of the real John Wick, rather than a movie that makes fun of something that is already so self-aware. You can’t spoof something that’s so exaggerated on purpose when that material already knows it’s funny in its own way. Keanu ends up being just a middle of the road comedy.
Starring: Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Method Man, Tiffany Haddish, and Will Forte
with: Nia Long, Luiz Guzman, Jason Mitchell, Keanu Reeves, and Anna Faris
Director: Peter Atencio (‘Key and Peele’)
RT Score: 76%