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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Keanu (Blu-ray)
Keanu (Blu-ray)
Warner Bros. // R // August 2, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $28.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted August 5, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

You can count the number of times I've watched Comedy Central's Key & Peele show on television on one hand, and still have fingers left over. It's not any sort of personal knock on them from me, it's just the show, created by MADtv alums Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele has never really been something I've taken the time to seek out, despite my understanding that the show is pretty good. And I saw a red band trailer for Keanu in front of a movie and fell in love with it, and them. Again, like the show, I never took the time to seek it out the movie, for whatever reason. And now, I get the chance to see the movie now that it's on Blu-ray. Kismet!

Peele and K&P writer Alex Rubens wrote the script, and the show's director Peter Atencio helped the guys out and directed as well. Rell (Peele) is down in the dumps after his girlfriend dumps him, and he finds a small kitten and begins to take care of it, as a part of his psychological healing process no doubt. His cousin Clarence (Key) comes over periodically to cheer him up, but two weeks later, they find Rell's house ransacked and his kitten missing. The two eventually learn the kitten belonged to a Mexican drug kingpin, killed in a shootout by two hitmen who look an awful lot like Rell and Clarence. So they have to act tough in front of a gang they think has the kitten, since named Keanu. From there on out, the movie finds the two in various situations of hilarity, all the while trying to maintain an appearance of street toughness in front of their new gangster friends.

From the outside looking in to the comic acumen of Key and Peele, there is a notable sense of underachieving in Keanu to me. Large stretches of the movie would seem to indicate that neither performer is unsure about how to move the story along at times, falling back to wacky experiences and culture clashes; Clarence sells his new gangster friends on the virtues of George Michael, so much so that one of them gets a tattoo of the performer on his chest. Clarence also smokes a mystery drug that takes him on a trip in the land of psychedelics. There are also cameos that are random, or are part of the cast, but they also are disappointing for the most part. Of all the familiar faces in the cast that aren't appearing as themselves, you can't put Luis Guzman (War) into a bigger role with more comedy? Come on, now. At least in Rell's drug dealing neighbor, Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth) was there to do some off the wall trying of something. It was a mixed bag, but it was something.

However, it's not a completely trite piece of comedy. I think somewhere in Keanu that Key and Peele attempted to do some subtle skewering of whatever passes for cinema's portrayal of African American culture, and at times that actually works. A scene where they are at an intersection and N.W.A. is blaring, and the volume drops because Rell sees a cop car. He even waves jovially to them as the cops roll out. The running gag of them impersonating their hitman doppelgangers and interacting with ‘peers' in that field shines a further light on the silliness of it all. To be clear, this isn't parodying the demographic, but society's portrayal of that demographic, which Key and Peele rightly observe, is ludicrous.

I really wanted to like Keanu, but sadly I never got much of a chance to because the movie comes off like someone trying to stretch a 8-minute sketch into a 90-minute feature, and the struggle is quite visible as you watch the film. I'm sure that as a television show, Key & Peele is well worth the time and attention. Key and Peele, as comprised in Keanu? Not so much.

The Blu-ray:
The Video:

The AVC encode that befits Keanu in its 2.40:1 widescreen, high-definition glory, makes up for a good deal of the disappointment. The film balances several different visual looks, including a parody of a George Michael video, and befitting softer, almost angelic light around the guest star in the movie who plays themselves. It would be easy to say that its haloing but it's a deliberate choice, because the characters around this person all have ample amounts of image detail in their faces and set against a dark California night, the lights present a wonderful contrast. Colors look excellent and the sharpness remains consistent throughout viewing, and makes for a quality transfer.

The Sound:

There's no two ways around it, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless surround track is bass-heavy. VERY bass-heavy. There's a lot of rap which is fine by me, but the quieter, dialogue-heavy moments the film lacks much of a dynamic range to boast about. Everything sounds consistent and clear, but considering how much ruckus the film has in gun battles and such, it doesn't sound as immersive as it could have been. Don't get me wrong, it sounds fine, but could have been better.

The Extras:

So "My First Movie" (3:05) is where Keanu visits the various cast members who impart words of wisdom to the kitten, and a gag reel (5:39) has some giggles, but little of memory. Eight deleted scenes (15:13) have a couple of funny extended moments but, like the movie, feels hollow and disappointing..

Final Thoughts:

Maybe I was building Keanu up too much in my head or something, but the movie is a series of jokes that has an incomplete story that ties the whole thing together. This takes Richard Pryor or Eddie Murphy's standup bits when they talk tough, tries to make a movie out of it, and doesn't handle it well. Technically the disc is very nice, and the bonus material disappoints. I would seek out…episodes of Key & Peele before Keanu, and will be doing so right after this.

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