A LITTLE HELP? Keegan-Michael Key, left, and Jordan Peele battle gangstas to save the life of a precious kitten named Keanu.
Keanu, the new movie from sublime comedy team Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, plays something like a Quentin Tarantino version of That Darn Cat. In good comedy-team fashion, the film upholds the tradition of a straight player trying to keep order beside a partner whose grip has long since gone.
The protean Key, facially bland enough to portray dozens of characters, as he did for five seasons of the Key & Peele sketch comedy show, plays Clarence, an anxious suburban family man in a madras shirt. When Clarence's wife and kids go away for the weekend, this exec is finally given a chance to stretch his legs—then he gets a call from his cousin Rell (Peele).
Rell has just been dumped by his girlfriend, who told him he wasn't going anywhere in life. ("I don't even know what that means!" he whines through a mouthful of bong smoke.) One day, heaven sends Rell a stray, silver tabby, scratching at his door. The cat completes him—they share milk from a saucer.
The cat, the titular Keanu, is the lone survivor of a bloodbath, when two gangsters from Allentown (also Key and Peele) shoot and carve up a lair full of drug-dealing rivals in the best John Woo style. After burglars strike Rell's house, the kitty vanishes. Clues lead to a gangsta named Cheddar (Method Man). To impress this downtown criminal and his cohorts, the cousins pose as the deadly Allentowners.
Like the baby in Raising Arizona, Keanu stirs up everyone's emotions without having any of its own. Wearing a bitty do-rag and tiny bling around its neck, the little mite is a symbol of fragile, finer feelings threatened by the heavy boots of the urban world. The subject gives these two prime comedians something to sink their teeth into.
'Keanu' is playing in wide release in the North Bay.