The comic duo Key & Peele take to the big screen in a one-joke premise involving a kitten 

called Keanu.



Gangsta cat

Keanu is going to be the sweetest kitten you see at the movies all year. In fact, Keanu is so damned cute that he starts a turf war between some pretty badass drug lords in the L.A. region. However, while various mofos are blasting each other off the planet, the little kitty finds itself at the door of Rell (Jordan Peele), just when he needs a little ball of fur and big eyes the most. He’s just broken up with his girlfriend and is a total mess and the unexpected visitor raises his spirits no end. Soon, the film buff-cum-photographer is posing his new friend in a series of tableaux mimicking scenes from famous movies, from The Shining to The Silence of the Lambs. Oh, they have so much fun together. But no sooner is Rell’s life getting back on track than his house is burgled and the kitten – whom he dubbed ‘Keanu’ – is gone. Determined to reclaim the new love of his life, Rell teams up with his cousin and best friend Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key), and together they masquerade as some heavy mothers, the better to infiltrate the underworld where they suspect Keanu has been taken…


Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key are a comic double-act whose black-in-L.A. shtick will no doubt appeal to a very specific urban demographic. Here, as the dopey, middle-class cousins they are a far cry from the hard-man dynamic to which their characters aspire. For starters, Clarence has a very uncool fixation on George Michael, while Rell is the ultimate film nerd with a particular obsession for Mario Van Peebles' New Jack City. But there’s an endearing shorthand between the guys, so that when Clarence asks Rell on the phone how he is, the latter replies: “I look like Apollo Creed!” Clarence: “Which Rocky?” Rell: “The one where he dies.”


Key, the son of a black father and white mother, comes across as a sort of preppy, shorter version of Dwayne Johnson, armed with a high-pitched squeal. However, the banter between the two stars, while initially amusing, pretty soon wears thin. Ultimately, Keanu is a one-joke premise shoehorned into a familiar gangsta template with gobs of the usual violence, drug-taking and bad language. In better, sharper material, Jordan Peele could make a rather sweet leading man, with Key as sufficient back-up, but this is not the film to win the duo any new fans. There’s a memorable cameo from Anna Faris as a frenzied version of herself, but she gets killed off too soon. By my count, she’s the second star to die on screen this year (in the wake of the late Kate Moss in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie). Following the untimely death of Bill Murray as Bill Murray in Zombieland, this could become a celebrity trend.




Cast: Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Will Forte, Method Man, Tiffany Hadish, Luis Guzmán, Nia Long, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Jason Mitchell, Jamar Malachi Neighbors, Anna Faris, Keanu Reeves (voice only).


Dir Peter Atencio, Pro Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Peter Principato, Paul Young and Joel Zadak, Screenplay Jordan Peele and Alex Rubens, Ph Jas Shelton, Pro Des Aaron Osborne, Ed Nicholas Monsour, Music Steve Jablonsky and Nathan Whitehead, Costumes Abby O’Sullivan.


New Line Cinema/RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Monkeypaw Productions/Principato-Young Entertainment-Warner Brothers.

99 mins. USA. 2016. Rel: 15 July 2016. Cert. 15.