KEANU – Review by Susan Granger
Voiced by “The Matrix” star, Keanu is the tiny gray-and-white kitten that serves as the linchpin in an extended sketch by TV’s Comedy Central favorites Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. As Keanu’s story begins, he’s scooting out of a drug-lab shootout, miraculously winding up on the doorstep of pot-puffing slacker Rell Williams (Peele), who’s depressed after being dumped by his girl-friend. With the approval of his uptight best friend/cousin Clarence (Key), Rell adopts the fluffy feline, naming him Keanu, which he thinks is Hawaiian for “cool breeze.” Read on…
When Keanu disappears after a break-in, Rell’s stoner neighbor Hulka (Will Forte) steers them to a seedy Los Angeles strip club, Hot Party Vixens, the headquarters of the notorious 17th Street Blips (“the ones who got kicked out of the Bloods and Crips”), run by kingpin Cheddar (rapper Method Man), who has not only abducted Keanu but also re-named him New Jack, decking him out in a do-rag and bling.
In order to ingratiate themselves with Cheddar, nerdy, soft-spoken Rell and Clarence pass themselves off as street thugs called Tectonic and Shark Tank – and their gangsta impersonations poke fun at racial stereotypes.
To get their cat back, they’re sent on a mission to deliver drugs to the Hollywood home of a maniacal movie star (Anna Faris), accompanied by Cheddar’s surly accomplice Hi-C (Tiffany Haddish). Not surprisingly, there are unexpected complications – with a nod to Clarence’s giddy passion for pop singer George Michael.
Lackadaisically scripted by Jordan Peele with his longtime TV writing partner Alex Rubens, it’s episodically directed by “Key & Peele” show veteran Peter Atencio. And credit the cat-wranglers who juggled seven different tabbies in the title role.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Keanu” is a subtly absurdist 6, purring with subversive satire.