If you have seen Key & Peele, chances are that you have heard of this film: their very first feature film where they get to play the leads and they also had a huge hand in the creative side of it as well. Tie in the humour of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele combined with the most adorable kitten you will ever see in your entire life and you get one very enjoyable film that is going to hold a high rewatch value in this household. Especially if you consider the poster, you would think that this is one of those dumb comedies with an animal doing something stupid and a bunch of slapstick PG-13 gags… but oh no, this movie is loud, crass but also oddly sweet in a manner that is not overbearing.
The plot is very simple: a huge shoot-out at a drug kingpin’s hideout leads to his little kitten escaping and showing up at the door of heartbroken stoner, Rell (Peele), who welcomes the little critter into his life after a horrible breakup has left him a broken shell of a man. Meanwhile, his earnest introverted friend Clarence (Key) is convinced by his wife to just have a fun weekend while she’s away and to just let loose. When little Keanu (the cat) goes missing and his home is burglarized, Clarence accompanies his buddy to infiltrate the world of drug dealing to find him. What follows is the two putting on these fake personas and sifting their way through one seedy place to the other in order to rescue their feline friend. A very funny film ensues.
Acting-wise, this featured two very strong comic performances from its leads. Keegan plays more of the straight role but he does get a lot of funny stuff to do while Peele is more of the goofy one of the pair. However, that switches at various points of the movies so that both guys get plenty of funny stuff to do and say but it never interferes with their characteristics or makes them do things that don’t make any sense. It was nice to see Jason Mitchell in another film ever since his scene-stealing performance in Straight Outta Compton and he had a lot of fun with the material. The scene in which Keegan is trying to rationalize his love for George Michael to a bunch of gangsters is a hoot and Mitchell has some of the best reactions. Method Man is an ice-cold character that exudes charisma and intimidation. He is like a villain plucked from a serious film that doesn’t know he’s in a comedy, which is probably why it works so well. As a major Saturday Night Live aficionado, Will Forte has always been a huge favourite of mine so seeing him show up in the film as a wannabe-gangster/drug dealer was hilarious all on its own. The fact that Forte always goes balls-deep with his performances and commits with razor-sharp focus made it even better. There are a few really fun cameos that I won’t spoil here but I’ll just say that one involves a wild dream sequence and another is one particular customer that the drug dealers visit (which turns out to be a bit of a cop-out in a later scene but that didn’t bother me too much).
The most important thing: is it funny? The answer is a resounding yes. Key & Peele are two very funny guys that were hampered down by the shittiness known as madTV until they were able to get their own show that proved just how smart and funny they can be when in control of their own material. Both guys are great here, especially when under their fake gangster personas right from their swagger to their ridiculous stories (the appendix scar one killed me). They’ve also surrounded themselves with some very funny people and everyone gets a chance to shine despite the two leads definitely being the focus of the film. Let’s not discount the cat either! Keanu is more adorable than any other animal I’ve seen in a film before and he has so much personality that he acts as one of the stars as well. Some highlights of the film comedic-wise include: a foreshadowing to the film’s plot where they revel in just having watched a Liam Neeson film, a scene in which Key & Peele have to accompany the crew on a deal to a rather familiar person’s home, a wacky dream sequence involving George Michael and a talking cat and the final insane shoot-out and ensuing car chase.
I can not recommend this one enough. If you enjoy crazy comedies, adorable kittens and especially the stylings of Key & Peele, you will not be disappointed.
* (Brutal; the worst rating)
** (Some elements keep it from being awful but still not very good)
*** (Completely watchable; a rental as old-timers might say)
**** (Great film with a few things here and there keeping it from being perfect)
***** (Flawless; a true achievement)