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Keanu (2016)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/2/2016


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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/19/2016

I make no apologies for the fact that I'm a cat person. I got my first cat when I was 10-years old and I've consistently had them as pets ever since. I enjoy their distinct personalities and given the right circumstances, they can be very funny. Cats have never gotten their fair shake in the movies. While dog movies abound, we rarely get see cats in films, and when we do, they are often CG creatures. I have to assume that this has to do with the fact that cats are fiercely independent and difficult to train. Therefore, when I first saw the previews for Keanu, which featured an incredibly cute kitten, I was hooked and I couldn't wait to see it. Would this be the movie to finally offer justice to cats everywhere?

Rell (Jordan Peele) is having a hard time a breakup, but his life changes when he finds a kitten on his doorstep. Naming the cat Keanu, his mood is instantly lifted and he begins doing photography with the kitten. Rell's cousin, Clarence (Keegan Michael-Key), is on his own, as his wife is out-of-town. Rell and Clarence go to the movies, and when they return, they find that Rell's house has been burgled and that Keanu is missing. Acting on information from Rell's sketchy neighbor, Hulka (Will Forte), Rell and Clarence visit a strip club and find that a gangster named Cheddar (Method Man) has Keanu. The cousins are mistaken for a pair of notorious outlaws from Allentown, and they decide to play along, thinking that it will help them retrieve the cat. However, they soon find themselves in over their heads, as they are forced to work with Cheddar's gang and become part of a drug deal.

Key and Peele began working together over a decade ago on Mad TV. In 2012, they got their own show on Comedy Central, and their popularity really took off. Meanwhile, both work tirelessly, showing up in many television shows and movies. (I can only imagine that Key never goes home, as he's seemingly in everything.) I've seen some bits from their show, and found some of them amusing, especially the "Substitute Teacher" sketch (which is referenced in Keanu), but I didn't know what to expect from the movie. Given that the tagline is "From the Visionary Minds of Key & Peele", I had anticipated a lot more.

The film gets off to an interesting start, as this is the first movie that I've seen in which a man finds a kitten which changes his life. And the photos he takes with Keanu, which are based on popular movies, are very funny. The notion of these two very straight-laced guys going into Cheddar's club is also amusing. But, once they get to the club, and they are mistaken for the Dresden Brothers, the movie loses most, if not all of, its originality. From this point on, the movie stumbles into all of the pitfalls which entail a mistaken identity movie, as Rell and Clarence struggle to keep up the charade. This includes a lot of profanity, a lot of usage of the "N-word", and a lot of violence. These scenes are rarely humorous and some are simply cringe-worthy. As the film moves into the third act, it does deviate from this path and things become very tedious.

While this in and of itself is disappointing, the movie further lets us down by showing glimmers of cleverness and creativity, most of which spring from Clarence's character. I don't want to give too much away, but Clarence loves George Michael and he works as a corporate team-builder, two things which should not gel with a group of thugs. But, as he introduces these parts of his life to them, the results are quite humorous, most notably his explanation as to how Wham! broke up. (Between this movie and Deadpool, Wham! is getting a lot of exposure this year.)

Perhaps the studio wouldn't let Key & Peele do something truly original, many parts of this movie feel all too familiar. How many movies have we seen where average guys have to act tough in order to impress a gang? On that front, nothing new is offered here. We've seen people like Kevin Hart and Martin Lawrence doing the exact same thing before. The idea of someone going to such great lengths to get a cat back is a novel one, but the movie loses all scope of what is funny and the attempts at humor simply become more and more broad, and thus, less funny, as the film goes on. Are there some genuine laughs here? Yes, there are, but truly funny, laugh-out-loud moments are rare and I spent most of the movie wishing that Key & Peele had taken another swipe at this material to try and make it more creative. Keanu is an incredible cute cat and each time he meows, it's heart-breaking, but he can't save this movie.

Keanu made me wonder what George Michael thinks of this movie on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. (The final gunfight shows off some great colors.) The depth is notable (again, especially in that finale) and the image shows nice detail, never going soft. The Disc carries DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The film's nearly constant rap music provides a plethora of bass, which, at times, overpowers the dialogue and forced me to ride the volume control. The surround sound during the action sequences is good, as there are some well-placed bullet ricochets which come from the rear speakers. These scenes also highlight the front channels, which produce good stereo effects.

The Keanu Blu-ray Disc contains a small number of extras. "Keanu: My First Movie" (3 minutes) has various members of the cast speaking with the kitten and giving him advice about being in the movies. The Disc contains eight DELETED SCENES which run about 15 minutes. The bulk of these are simply moments which were cut from existing scenes in the film. There are no new characters or subplots here. The final extra is a 6-minute GAG REEL.

Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long