The Charms of Key and Peele Carry the Dumb Comedy of Keanu

It may be a one-joke movie that uses cheap tricks, but I laughed a lot.

Nerdy guys passing themselves off as gangbangers to recover a pet: Keanu may be a one-joke movie that uses cheap tricks (foremost among these, the deployment of an adorable kitten), but I laughed all the way through.

I credit the appealing screen presence and well-honed chemistry between longtime sketch comedy partners Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key. As straitlaced Clarence (Key) and his stoner buddy Rell (Peele), the pair make the most of the movie’s intentionally dumb scenario.

The fun comes from watching as Clarence and Rell infiltrate a drug gang by pretending to be a pair of infamous assassins, despite the fact that Clarence is driving around in a minivan with an iPod full of George Michael tracks. They talk big, calling themselves “Tectonic” and “Shark Tank,” liberally sprinkle in use of the n-word, and assure their new gang compadres that George Michael is the shizz.

Of course it doesn’t make any sense that gang leader Cheddar (Method Man) would entrust a shipment of his new hallucinogenic drug to a couple of guys off the street who look like they just picked up their wardrobe at JCPenney. But who cares about logic and reason when we get to watch Clarence accidentally get so high he imagines himself inside the music video for Michael’s 1987 hit “Faith.” There’s not a lot of originality in Keanu, but that I hadn’t seen before.