Comedy for this critic is a genre that has lost its footing over the last few years. Crappy sequels and the over-usage of Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell will do that. Sure, there are the occasional films that provide some yucks for the time being, but they can’t be looked at as “good” comedic films. Currently, our hopes are lying on the likes of comedic duo Key and Peele in their first feature length film after their hit show came to an end. With that in mind, understand that this film’s comedy rolls like a boulder down the hill with momentum that would have physicists smiling. I’m not too sure what audiences at SXSW (South By Southwest) were smoking, but I found the pacing of this movie just fine.
The premise is simple and ridiculous just like you’d hope, a man finds an adorable kitten at his doorstep whom he adopts and names Keanu (like the actor duh) only for the kitten to go missing, and that leads Jordan Peele’s character and his soft minded cousin Clarence to go on a wild goose chase into scummy, thug infested Los Angelas in hopes of finding his lost kitten. At first, you’re hoping this isn’t an overstretched comedy sketch they found in between a casting couch, but even if that was the story behind the genesis of the script, we’d be all the happier for it. With me saying that you’d probably think the plot (while not particularly complex) isn’t attention grabbing, but both comic’s acting skills are to be praised for the certain personas they bring to life on screen. Is this Trainwreck deep? Not at all, but the film has substance to work with and flashes astonishingly clever dialogue and character tropes.
Unafraid to take a meta turn in some of their scenes, the belly laugh moments begin to grow in quantity the more the film delves into the main plot. Maybe some miss, but that’s most comedy, you can’t laugh at everything. With Method Man as head gangster Cheddar and appearances from familiar faces like Nia Long, Will Forte, and Luis Guzman, we are also given an appearance from rising star Jason Mitchell (Eazy-E in Straight Outta Compton) and a trio of colorful criminals. I think of the humor like a Key and Peele sketch meets your favorite cat video on YouTube only to be mixed with a parody of New Jack City and John Wick, but without the animal abuse. And as cute as the kitten is, he is not the only plot device that matters that drives this movie.
I look at this film as what comedy films should strive for. Instead of same overdone cliches for your genre, how about you poke fun at other genres in the process of making us laugh with original content done well? Their chemistry throughout is nothing we haven’t seen hundreds of times, but there’s a reason they’ve worked together at such a high level for so long. If you tell your friends or significant other that a kidnapping gangster flick starring Key and Peele and freakishly cute kitten is out, you should all be excited. Keanu (the cat himself) is spread modestly through the picture, but they make you appreciate his cuteness that much more when he’s there. Couple that with some great and unforced laughs with some buddies and a bag of popcorn then you are in for a good time at the movies.