Clarence's 'hood ain't exactly Compton.
Sure, he lives in Los Angeles—but in its well-watered suburbs. Mean streets? The only time his street gets mean is when he gets an HOA notice reminding him to cut his lawn. He has a wife and a daughter. He's a corporate productivity coach specializing in communication. He grooves to old George Michael tunes in his minivan, for Pete's sake. Clarence is about as gangsta as Captain Crunch.
Friend Rell's not much for minivans, preferring the comfort of his couch … on which he inhales his pot. Ever since his girlfriend left him, accusing him of lacking any sort of drive or ambition (imagine), Rell sees very little need to leave said couch for anything but the occasional bathroom break.
You wouldn't think that a little stray kitten—a kitten so cute that Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie on My Little Pony grind their teeth in envy—could turn these two mild-mannered suburbanites into L.A.'s most feared drug lords. But, clearly, you'd be underestimating the power of the purr.
When the kitten shows up on Rell's doorstep, he immediately bonds with it like Kim Kardashian does with her smartphone. He names the critter Keanu—"I think it means 'cool breeze' in Hawaiian," he says—and realizes that the animal is just the salve to help mend his broken heart.
But when Clarence and Rell return home from a Liam Neeson movie, they discover they've been robbed. One would assume the culprit's a literal cat burglar, because Keanu's the only thing missing.
It seems as though someone mistook Rell's (admittedly marijuana-scented) house for a drug-dealer's den. But finding few drugs and no dealer, the robbers made off with the kitten instead. Now it's up to Rell—stirred up like that Mama Bear in The Revenant—and Clarence to track down that cute cat, masquerade as drug dealers to get close and, finally, bring Keanu safely home to a nice, warm saucer of medical milk.
It's a noble thing to save a cat from kitty harm, right? Rell certainly thinks so. And while Clarence isn't as fond of Keanu as Rell is, he does want to help his friend—and so he does. He's also very attentive to and protective of his wife and daughter, and he doesn't want to risk his future with them. As such, he pushes back against doing anything illegal. He does it anyway, of course. In fact, the movie doesn't allow for either Rell or Clarence to escape wrongdoing. But it also doesn't allow them to get away with it all, either. "Just remember, Rell," a police officer tells him. "There's consequences to your actions." And so there are.
There's a line about smoking "crack with God," and a drug manufacturing operation takes place in an old church sanctuary. We see a picture of Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam" painting on a drug dealer's wall. When Clarence does a backflip, someone calls him "Black Jesus." There are references to spirit animals.
The catnappers consist of a gang known as the Blips (who were kicked out of the Bloods and the Crips), led by a drug overlord called Cheddar. Cheddar runs his operation out of a strip club named HPV. Inside are topless dancers who get quite a lot of screen time from quite a few angles. Clarence averts his eyes when a "worker" starts flirting with him, holding up his hands as if to ward her off and telling her that he's married. (She responds by removing his wedding ring and walking away.)
Back home with his wife, Clarence talks with her—in comical but sometimes graphic detail—about their sexual interludes and what form they might take.
Lying to seal a drug deal, Rell brags about having cut the penises off of two men during a confrontation, describing the organs in uncomfortable detail. Male and female drug workers do their jobs while stripped to their underwear.
Death in Keanu is, shall we say, a little uncertain. People who seem to die show up later, apparently fine—or, at least, mobile. So let's just say that lots of people appear to die during this movie.
Two fearsome dudes enter a drug operation and gun down dozens in the movie's very first scene. Blood spatters the walls, and the last man is killed (offscreen) with a switchblade. Others are mowed down in a frenetic shootout at a mansion, with people sustaining outrageous wounds. Several are all but perforated with bullets.
Clarence and Rell are tied up by a couple of evildoers, who silently examine a table full of knives, saws and other presumed implements of torture. A man is thrown from a car and then hit by another. A low-level drug dealer is tossed into the back of a car with a boa constrictor and is later found half eaten (still alive and sticking out of the snake's mouth). A celebrity threatens drug dealers with a sword and begs for one dealer to kill the other. A fearsome killer wears the severed sexual appendages of his victims as necklace pendants.
Blip gang members compare scars and discuss how they received them. One extinguishes a joint in the palm of his hand. There's talk of bodies being stored in trunks. Someone gets punched in the face.
Crude or Profane Language
More than 130 f-words (perhaps far more if you were to count all of them in the background rap music). There's another 60 or so s-words and at least 50 uses of the n-word. Also: "a--," "b--ch" and "h---." God's name is misused about 20 times, at least five times combined with "d--n."
Drug and Alcohol Content
A "super drug" dubbed "Holy S---" is reportedly a mixture of PCP, MDMA and the hallucinogenic DMT. We see its victims have seizures or pass out. Clarence takes a hit of it, thinking it's "just" weed, and he experiences a hallucination involving George Michael, Cheddar and a talking Keanu (who claims to be Clarence's spirit animal). Rell smokes a bong and a joint. Others toke, too. As mentioned, we see drug manufacturing and packing operations. A drug dealer talks about how high he is. We see someone snort cocaine. Clarence, Rell and others drink alcohol during a party.
Other Negative Elements
Lying, stealing and, oh yeah, we've already covered all the drug dealing. We hear about projectile vomiting and diarrhea.
Comedians Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key—Rell and Clarence here, respectively—came to fame via Key & Peele, a sketch comedy show that ran for five little-viewed but critically lauded seasons on Comedy Central. Some might call them the 21st-century's answer to Laurel and Hardy or Abbot and Costello.
'Course, Laurel and Hardy never cursed like Key and Peele do, nor would they have relied so much on raunch to make their funny point. And while Abbot and Costello had their share of run-ins with Dracula and Frankenstein, they never needed to join a drug gang and sample their own wares.
Key and Peele are talented dudes, to be sure. But their movie Keanu isn't just dependent upon raunch, it glories in it. It doesn't just elicit drugs for the sake of a few laughs, it dives into the middle of a big ol' pile of them. There's nudity. There's racial slurs. And the list goes on. All of these elements are designed to emphasize just how far downstream these fish are from their suburban waters, but that doesn't protect moviegoers from the content one little whit.
The kitten is cute. The movie is not.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Jordan Peele as Rell Williams; Keegan-Michael Key as Clarence Goobril; Tiffany Haddish as Hi-C; Method Man as Cheddar; Darrell Britt-Gibson as Trunk; Jason Mitchell as Bud; Jamar Malachi Neighbors as Stitches; Luis Guzmán as Bacon; Will Forte as Hulka; Nia Long as Hannah: Keanu Reeves as the voice of Keanu
Peter Atencio ( )
April 29, 2016
August 2, 2016