Through every minute of Keanu, it's evident we're watching a movie made by people who love movies. They know all the clichés of action films and rom-coms, but they also circumvent them. It's like they read Blake Snyder's Hollywood screenwriting bible Save the Cat! -- which advises you to give audiences what they want and, among other things, literally save the cat if there's one in peril in the story -- and then made an entire movie around the cat. The feline's name is even a wink at the film's source material: Keanu Reeves' electric murdered-pet revenge flick John Wick.
In the very first scene, we get slow-motion shots of a kitten soon to be named Keanu dashing through total carnage as two goons shoot up a drug den, employing Matrix-level moves to flip upside down while firing guns. The goons -- (a heavily made-up Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) -- obviously fall in love with the kitten, who melts their hearts until the police burst in.
The kitten winds up on the doorstep of Rell (Peele), and so begins our story of a cat who steals hearts and leads humans into terrible situations to save him. That would be funny enough, but to their credit Key and Peele never settle for just the easy joke. The duo has honed a beautiful comic partnership, an odd-couple friendship that feels more influenced by Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder than contemporary performers. Both are biracial, and their characters constantly bounce their racial and gender insecurities at each other. Are they black enough? It's damn refreshing to see nice characters in an American comedy again, and whoever trained the eight cats that play Keanu deserves an Academy Award.