Here’s What the Critics Are Saying About Key and Peele’s Movie ‘Keanu’

keanuAt long last, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, and Peter Atencio’s movie Keanu hits theaters today, and so far the majority of reviews have consistently included one point of praise (It’s very funny!) and one point of criticism (It’s very long!). Currently at 77% on Rotten Tomatoes, the film was written by Alex Rubens and directed by Peter Atencio and tells “the story of friends who pose as drug dealers to infiltrate the criminal underworld, all to retrieve a stolen kitty.” Here’s what some of the critics have to say about the film:

The A.V. Club: “The pair are so consistently funny, bullshitting their way through every situation, that it’s sometimes possible to ignore how thin the movie around them really is. A scenario is much harder to sustain for 90 minutes than for three, and the script—written by Peele and Alex Rubens—often betrays the sketch-comedy background of the stars.”

The New York Times: “Running 90 minutes too long, the movie is a slack, erratically amusing excuse to watch Mr. Key and Mr. Peele tag-team after ending Key & Peele, their celebrated, often blazingly funny Comedy Central series that turned them into national memes. The road to Mr. Key and Mr. Peele’s future as movie headliners, though, will take more than kittens, guns and a riff on gangbangers head-bobbing to George Michael. What’s needed is a sharper, smarter edge, like the one they used on their show to lacerate pop-cultural and political targets; also, more and better jokes.”

Chicago Tribune: “Written by Peele and Key and Peele alum Alex Rubens, directed by fellow Key and Peele veteran Peter Atencio, the movie is hit-and-miss in an unusually clear-cut way. It’s funny for 45-50 minutes. Then it’s strained and abrasive and entirely too devoted to action-movie tropes for 45-50 minutes, minus end credits. I can recommend the first half.”

USA Today: “The little guy in director Peter Atencio’s action comedy Keanu is fast and furious — and furry — and complements the culturally relevant comedy of stars Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. They bring their talent for creating entertaining character duos from the small screen to the cineplex for the first time, though Keanu doesn’t on the whole match the sheer hilarity and brilliance of the Key & Peele TV sketch show.”

IGN: “My biggest complaint with Keanu is that it suffers from Multiple Endings Syndrome. Just when you think it’s over, it offers up yet another over-the-top, action set-piece. While each of these sequences has a narrative justification, at a certain point — no matter how fun these sequences are — it all simply becomes exhausting. The viewer has already reached an emotional crescendo the first one or two times it seemed like the story had reached its conclusion. By the fourth one it’s overkill.”

NPR: “Keanu doesn’t have nearly enough story to go the distance, sputtering through an ’80s-style action-comedy that follows a feline MacGuffin through an L.A. gangland misadventure. And yet Key and Peele have such a sensationally giddy chemistry together that the film’s raggedness plays, in their hands, like a kind of spontaneity. Whenever the fish-out-of-water jokes seem completely wrung-out, they’re standing over the script with defibrillators, tossing in a one-liner or a look or an inspired digression to shock the corpse back to life.”

The Hollywood Reporter: “Playing middle-class cousins forced to impersonate gangsters so they can rescue the movie’s eponymous pet (what do you mean you don’t follow that logic?), the actors make the transition with ease in a consistently funny action-comedy. This may not be adequate compensation for the end of their series, which gave them so many more opportunities to try on new personalities and take one-gag ideas for a spin, but it will delight the show’s fans while winning over others unlucky enough never to have seen it.”

Entertainment Weekly: “Thanks to Key and Peele’s top-notch comedic chemistry, the jokes are more hit than miss, including a psychotic cameo by a female star and a trippy, self-referential voiceover by Keanu Reeves himself. Less innovative is Keanu’s predictable storyline, which meanders and gets lost in unnecessary subplots. What made Key and Peele the TV show so brilliant was how it felt like nothing else on television. Keanu has its clever (and adorable) premise, but the rest feels like your standard action-comedy, and even at one hour and 38 minutes, things start to drag towards the finish line (especially when Keanu himself isn’t on screen).”

Collider: “Unfortunately, the film falls flat by having too thin of a premise to support scenes that run on for far too long and jokes that never really land. While there are still some laughs to be found throughout Keanu, Peter Atencio’s film always feels like a comedy that’s straining when it should be a big, easy hit.”

Variety: “That the movie reteams a number of collaborators from Comedy Central’s Key and Peele — including director Peter Atencio and screenwriters Peele and Alex Rubens — would seem to bear out the notion that their distinctive brand of double-edged satire is best served and consumed in five-minute sketches. Keanu, by contrast, is one flabby tabby that seems to be overstaying its welcome at the half-hour mark, and leans heavily thereafter on over-the-top violence whenever it’s clear the jokes aren’t landing.”

Screen Rant: “Those who are dedicated fans of Key and Peele’s previous Comedy Central sketch comedy work should get additional mileage out of Keanu for that reason, since the latter delivers much of the same brand of humor for the running time of a full-length feature – but hasn’t already run out of gas by the time the end credits start rolling.”

Rolling Stone: “I’ve heard complaints that Keanu – the feature film debut from Comedy Central’s merry pranksters Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, just off a five-season run – is uneven, overlong and really just a cat video disguised as a movie. Yeah, maybe. But I laughed my ass off.”

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