After a successful five year run on the Comedy Central sketch series “Key & Peele,” Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are now taking their talents to the big screen with their new film “Keanu.” While the makers of the film hope that those already familiar with this duo’s zany and irreverent brand of humor will flock to see the film on its opening weekend, they’re also looking to pull in new fans who may not have seen the sketches involving Obama’s anger translator or the hot-tempered substitute teacher who can’t pronounce names correctly.
In “Keanu,” Peele plays Rell, a well-meaning loner who finds solace in the form of a kitten that shows up on his doorstep. Unbeknownst to Rell, this lost feline happens to belong to a ruthless gang leader. Shortly after adopting the cat and naming him Keanu, Rell embarks on a dangerous quest with his cousin (played by Key) to rescue Keanu from the clutches of the gang and bring him back home. The pair get far more than they bargained for when they have to infiltrate the notorious gang, and as expected, hilarious hijinks ensue.
The film takes its absurd premise and runs with it, never making the mistake of taking itself too seriously. Key and Peele are in top form here, delivering laugh out loud moments on their own but reaching even higher levels of comedic brilliance in their scenes together. At times it is difficult to pinpoint which moments were scripted and which were improvised because the two share such a natural on-screen chemistry. Even though not every joke is a hit, it’s obvious by the looks on their faces from scene to scene just how much fun they had shooting this movie. Their glee is so infectious that you can’t help but have a good time simply by watching them have a good time.
In addition to the rapid fire comedy featured throughout “Keanu,” there is a fair amount of hardcore action featured in the film. I interviewed Key and Peele over the phone and asked them about the importance of striking the right balance between comedy and action for this type of film.
“Action is our favorite genre,” said Jordan Peele. “We wanted to capture a tone in our film that calls back to films from the 80s like “Le’hal Weapon” w’ere there was a fair amount of violence but you also had moments of humor throughout.”
Keegan-Michael Key added, “We know that guys like us aren’t the first ones to get cast in these big-budget action films and so we wanted to explore what would happen if you put regular guys in a movie like ‘Captain America: Civil War’ or ‘The Matrix.’ But the most important thing we kept going back to was that we wanted this to be a film that people could go see with their friends, forget about the stresses of everyday life and just have fun.”
Mission accomplished, Key and Peele.