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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Key and Peele outshine Kitty in ‘Keanu’

Keanu+finished+second+at+the+box+office+this+weekend%2C+grossing+a+total+of+%249.35+million%2C+reports+Box+Office+Mojo
Photo by By Jacob Martindale

“Keanu” finished second at the box office this weekend, grossing a total of $9.35 million, reports Box Office Mojo

The transition from sketch writing to filmmaking is often a minefield for potential comics. “SNL” has birthed more than a few stinkers from their vast sketch library, and even famed comedian Louis C.K. wrote and directed the abysmal “Pootie-Tang,” an off-shoot from “The Chris Rock Show.” Some of the best fare the worst upon making the move, but even though Key and Peele’s “Keanu” slips in some of the same spots, its hit-or-miss humor hits often enough to warrant the ticket price.
Starring “Key and Peele”- alumni Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, “Keanu” is an action comedy about two men in search of their stolen kitten. Peele plays Rell — a down-and-out stoner recently dumped by his girlfriend — who finds a kitten, Keanu, on his doorstep. Meanwhile, Key’s character Clarence is a married-with-kids suburban dad, mini van and all, whose wife encourages him to go “off the leash” while she’s away on vacation with their daughter. The setup is ripe for excess and when Keanu is stolen, Rell and Clarence adopt new personas — “Tektonic” and “Shark Tank,” respectively — to infiltrate the local “17th street blips” — a gang made of the combined leftovers of the bloods and the crips — and rescue their kitten.
While the plot is paper-thin, it allows Key and Peele space to play multifaceted versions of themselves to great effect. The strongest aspect in the film is the duo’s banter, which is made interesting by their dynamic. Key’s uptight, do-right attitude foils nicely against Peele’s loose and spontaneous demeanor, and when the two adopt their gangster personas, the film adds another layer of humor. It never dips totally into racial commentary or claims to have something meaningful to say, but it makes clear just how out-of-water these characters truly are.
Yet at the same time, the fact that Key and Peele aren’t allowed more characters to play becomes a detriment to the film’s pacing. Not every scene is affected, but there are moments of slowdown in the first and third acts — namely when plot overtakes character, which only further emphasizes how much funnier these actors are than their script.
This is typical of sketch writers that move to features, and it’s a vacuum even Key and Peele can’t escape. In sketches, setting and plot are merely means to an end: the joke. But filmmaking requires a heightened value on plot and setting, because the audience expects a purpose, or at least a payoff. The end result is that “Keanu” is better in experience than in retrospect — a funny joke fast forgotten. 
There’s nothing inherently wrong with “Keanu.” It’s a fun, fast-paced action comedy that stars one of the most charismatic comic duos working today. It’s got enough laughs to buoy itself to decency. The kitten’s real cute. And although the film’s premise is preposterous to the point of becoming irrelevant, I can see audiences enjoying it. For fans of their show, it comes easily recommended. But if you haven’t seen “Key and Peele,” I suggest you start there.
Mason Morgan is an English senior and opinion editor for The Battalion

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