Thursday, May 12, 2016

KEANU (2016)

Directed By: Peter Atencio 
Written By: Jordan Peele & Alex Rubens 
Cinematography By: Jas Shelton 
Editor: Nicholas Monsour 

Cast: Keegan Michael-Key, Jordan Peele, Tiffany Haddish, Method Man, Will Forte, Nia Long, Rob Huebel, Luis Guzman, Jason Mitchell

*Please note that some trivia and facts have been republished from imdb among other sources In this review

Rell's life is changed forever when a cute kitten comes to his door, and he names it Keanu. Unfortunately, one weekend later, Keanu is abducted by persons unknown. Now Rell and his cousin, Clarence, are men on a mission to find Keanu against the odds. Unfortunately, those odds prove to be perilously high as they find Keanu in the care of the ruthless gangster, Cheddar, and he will only part with him for a price. Now for that cute kitten, these two middle class bumblers find themselves neck deep in a dangerous alien world of drugs and gang violence with only their desperate audacity, creativity and sheer dumb luck giving them a chance to survive.

First of by letting many know, if you are a huge KEY & PEELE fan. This might not be the movie you are looking for. As it has the same humor and even some references to the show. But the film while taking on some social observances is more silly comedy than anything else.

It should be, as really there is nothing more to be asked. One goes in hoping it will be familiar like a bigger and better episode, but comes across as a more fun average comedy.

While it acknowledges a type of character who is barely recognized. The average American middle class black male. Who is considered more of a nerd then necessarily Meeting cultural stereotypes. The film works in the fact that it Indulges in those stereotypes as well as subverts them to the over the top ridiculous nature without becoming overwhelming Into insulting or worse caricature.

It feels like a film that works more as a mood enhancer. rather than necessarily a comedy. As it seem more to put the audience in a good mood. Rather than making the audience die of laughter or really think too much. So it actually achieves to be a popcorn movie. More of a blockbuster type film though not necessarily dumbing down or exploiting the audience or it's sensibilities.

Also with various references to their Television series

There is a scene where they're discussing the enjoyment of Liam Neeson after leaving the theater of the named actor. This is a nod to a skit from their show where Key and Peele are valet parkers praising the acting of Liam Neeson.

During a car chase scene, there is a brief shot of a "Judge Jessie" bench by a curb. This is a reference to one of their sketches from "Key & Peele" in which Keegan-Michael Key played a daytime-TV Judge named Judge Jessie.

While Jordan Peele co-wrote the film and has plenty of humorous scenes to himself and would seem to be more the lead. Jordan Peele seems to be more subdued. While Keegan Michael key seems to have more work to do and has the more outrageous scenes and character.

While the film is pretty predictable it tends to be fun more than anything, but just as films like SISTERS recently. The vibe works sometimes more than the jokes. As the jokes work 70% of the time but when others don't land due to delivery or hair seeming like they are more well written and have better ideas, hen what is being delivered. It feels awkward in the scenes. Luckily the film is so fast paced it recovers quickly. So that it is never down too long.

For instance Will forte's character seem hilarious in idea and in paper, but here feels awkward and works as a sight gag, but further jokes with him, seem lame. Though he does help drive the plot somewhat. So his character can't be cut out of the film.

I believe the film is disappointing as most of us in the audience know that both these guys and probably the film has a higher potential then What is on screen. At times the film shows the brilliance it could have but seems To settle for being simple and pedestrian. Now Of course if they didn't already have a TV show behind them they might have come out with more of a guns blazing project. Instead of what seems more like a lightweight starter comedy.

As again whenever the film seems in doubt. It chooses to go back to the main reason this caper was started the cute kitten Keanu.

Though you know the film might be In trouble when one of the biggest laughs and memorable Scene in particular is stolen by a guest star or more cameo

(I get that the term guest star might fit as it is someone famous who is in the film for a bread time, but I guess it is so closely associated with television that it feels wrong for a film. As television is on going and that person can easily come back maybe even in a different role. While in a movie I feel like you signed a contract to appear and agreed and as you are a movie star you are really co-starring, but then you get back to the cameo label which does work of you are only there for a scene and more to be a funny little notice rather then a role. Though really that is guest star, but to me if you play a significant role even for one scene but have been talked about throughout. You have the presence and are really a co-star. I can more get behind guest star if you have to acknowledge them in the credits and it really was a one scene cameo. though guest star does make more sense as this is a star who is a guest to this production and we are lucky to have them. Then wouldn't indie films and first time directors when getting a big star to be in their smaller projects be able to use the term also)

Also whenever the film might run into problems. For whatever reason. It wisely will then seem to exploit the cuteness of the kitten of the title. Almost like a YouTube video or meme.

The film while dealing with heavy subjects is surprisingly lightweight by the end. One looking for more subversive comedy unfortunately won't find it here as the film is more goofy then anything else.

One scene in particular works as the films comedic centerpiece and damn near masterpiece. That involves a drug deal gone wrong. Though cuts between the two leads in the same location though under difference circumstances.

The film gives them plenty of comedic material and room for the silliness. Though the supporting characters while funny are more stuck in whatever role type they are supposed to play. Rather then given room to make their characters a little more broad.

While the film isn't a total home run. if you are fans of the actors. I believe you will find yourself enjoying the film.

Grade: C+

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