Movie Review: Keanu

Of the sketch shows on Comedy Central, Key and Peele did better than most in its lifetime. The duo’s comedy was a nice break between episodes of the venerable Daniel Tosh. They were not overly clever or too simple and used a good blend of absurdism and reference that spoke to me as a viewer. I found their remarks about growing up and the substitute teacher sketch very relatable. These days I do not feel much of that anymore and it was nice while it lasted. How well does Key and Peele’s style translate to the big screen in their first feature Keanu?

While going through a difficult break-up Rill, played by Jordan Peele, befriends a cat named Keanu who he becomes infatuated with. After his house is burglarized and the cat goes missing, Rill enlists the help of his cousin Clarence, played by Keegan-Michael Key, to find Keanu.

Comedies are tricky to review because they are so subjective. People have certain tastes that appeal only to them and no one else. Some think Spy is… funny and not garbage, while I think BroTeam is hilarious for his ironic nihilism. It is the nature of the beast and though I did not like Keanu, others certainly will.

The movie is basically a Key and Peele sketch stretched out to 98 minutes. It has the same basic setup of two guys struggling with their identity and learning how to behave with disastrous results. Unlike the show, there are no breaks between the duo’s shenanigans. You get these drawn out sections of a character trying to make George Michael seem like a gangster, a bad drug trip, and a weed dealer acting tough. They are very simple gags and situations that could have been funny had they flowed better and ended sooner. Instead, they drag on and on when you just want them to proceed. As a result, those 98 minutes feel like 120.

Batman v. Superman felt shorter.

My issue with the comedy is that there was no juxtaposition when this sort of concept really needed it. Using Dumb and Dumber as an example, the juxtaposition was Lloyd and Harry being out of their minds in a normal world. The comedy came from how they acted within that world. Keanu, as it turns out, has the same problem as Dumb and Dumber To.

Rill and Clarence are regular guys with flawed perceptions. They are about ordinary and safe as you can get. The story involves them going outside their comfort zones and acting like thugs to get Keanu back. Their idea of thugs is based on stereotypes they picked up from movies. Of course, real thugs are not what they seem on film, so Rill and Clarence would make fools of themselves and reveal their ignorance.

That does not happen. Instead, the thugs in question are actual movie thugs pulled from a Boyz n the Hood rip off. Rill and Clarence acting like idiots gets them exactly what they want with almost no consequence.

If you like Key and Peele and want to see their sketches in movie form, go see it. As a conventional comedy Keanu is certainly better than the ones I have seen and it is not bad by any means. I just did not find it funny.

Movie Review: Trainwreck

Apart from unintentionally infecting the world with that limey pissant known as Russell Brand, Judd Apatow is the reason R-rated comedies did not die after the turn of the century. With the help of Paul Rudd, Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen, and James Franco, he directed and produced a number of exceptional films that put Adam Sandler to shame (then again, Sandler puts himself to shame). They feel genuine with relatable themes and jokes that are actually funny. An Apatow movie is like Saturday Night Life if the actors and writers knew how comedy worked. Can Trainwreck measure up to his past works or should you give it a pass for Ant-Man?

If you read my previous review, you should see Ant-Man regardless. There is no reason to not see it, but that does not mean you should skip Trainwreck. It was a really bad move for both to come out at the same time. Nevertheless, one or the other will do if you are looking for a good comedy this weekend.

Comedian Amy Schumer plays Amy, a magazine staff writer who enjoys her life of alcohol, limited marijuana use, and tempered promiscuity. But while writing an article on sports physician Aaron, played by Bill Hader, she cannot handle feeling she wants a serious relationship and struggles between giving in or moving on.

If you have seen one Apatow directed movie you have seen them all. When you break it down by plot points, Trainwreck lines up with 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up. One can predict the moment of change, separation, and redemption on timing alone. What keeps the linearity in check is the humor of each film. All three are virtually the same, but they are defined and remembered for their comedy. Whether its “You know how I know you’re gay” or the “Chairs” scene, no one cares about the story as long as it has moments that make you laugh.

Trainwreck is no exception. Because Apataow employees professionals, they work in perfect harmony to make the humor consistent between each scene and character. And like many times before, there is a lot to enjoy, the difference being Schumer’s unique perspective.

To put it simply, at the risk of garnering unwanted attention, her style is feminist in the context of equality. She is very casual about sex, body issues, and stereotypes in relation to masculinity and treats men as equals rather than opposites. As the writer of Trainwreck, she applies her voice and structures the story around someone who is forced to grow out of her preferred lifestyle, a reverse 40-Year-Old Virgin.

Everyone on the cast did well, providing their respective levels of comedy depending on their parts. Schumer proved she could hold her own against veteran Hader. Even Lebron James and John Cena carried themselves, playing caricatures of their personalities. Dave Attell shows up as a homeless parody of himself. I do not know if he is a bum in real life, but it was a great touch.

The one negative I find is the lack of a blooper reel. Did something happen that put a stop to including outtakes at the end of movies? Apatow’s bloopers are always great and it is a shame I have to wait till the DVD release to see them.

I recommend Trainwreck, but only after you see Ant-Man. Both are fantastic comedies worth your time and money. The latter is more fun where as the former has a ton of relatable themes consistent with Apatow’s signature. To that end, it is a question of personal preference. But you should see Ant-Man even if you do not want to.