Keanu (film)

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Keanu poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPeter Atencio
Produced by
Written by
Music by
CinematographyJas Shelton
Edited byNicholas Monsour
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • March 13, 2016 (2016-03-13) (SXSW)
  • April 29, 2016 (2016-04-29) (United States)
Running time
100 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million[2]
Box office$20.6 million[3]

Keanu is a 2016 American buddy action comedy film directed by Peter Atencio and written by Jordan Peele and Alex Rubens. The film stars Peele and Keegan-Michael Key in their first film as lead actors, following five seasons of their sketch TV series. Also featuring Tiffany Haddish, Method Man, Nia Long and Will Forte, the plot follows two friends who infiltrate a gang in order to retrieve their stolen kitten.

Filming began in New Orleans, Louisiana in June 2015. The film premiered at the South by Southwest Festival on March 13, 2016, and was theatrically released in North America on April 29, 2016. It received generally positive reviews from critics and grossed $20 million against its $15 million budget.


Smoke and Oil Dresden, a pair of assassins known as the "Allentown Brothers", enter a drug-processing facility run by a Mexican drug cartel and kill everyone inside, including the boss King Diaz. The pair take Diaz's cat Iglesias, but when they are momentarily distracted by policemen arriving, the cat escapes. Meanwhile, Rell has just been dumped by his girlfriend; he finds the cat on his doorstep, takes an immediate liking to it, and names it Keanu. Rell's cousin Clarence comes over to cheer him up and meets Keanu as well.

Two weeks later, Clarence's wife and daughter go out of town with the husband and daughter of a family friend, leaving Clarence alone. Rell, who is much happier after taking care of Keanu, takes Clarence out to see a Liam Neeson movie, telling him he needs to loosen up and just be himself. When the two return to Rell's house, they find the place has been ransacked and Keanu is missing. A distraught Rell drags Clarence along to the next-door residence of his weed dealer Hulka, who reluctantly reveals that the 17th St. Blips, a local gang, may have raided Rell's house instead of his. Hulka directs them to a downtown strip club; Rell and Clarence go there, where Rell convinces Clarence to adopt a "gangsta" persona in order to infiltrate the gang, calling themselves "Tectonic" and "Shark Tank". The two meet Hi-C, a female gangster, who initially is skeptical of them but takes them to meet the gang's leader Cheddar, who mistakes them for the Allentown Boys. Cheddar has Keanu (having renamed him New Jack and fitted him with a do-rag), and they ask for the cat. He will only return the cat to them if they come along as expert advisors for the Blips on a run to sell a new drug called "Holy Shit"; both reluctantly agree.

After taking their team through a team-building exercise, Rell, Clarence, Hi-C, and three other gang members drive to their delivery spot. While Clarence stays behind and introduces the young men to the music of George Michael (whom he says is black, to overcome their skepticism), Rell and Hi-C go to make the sale. The buyer turns out to be Anna Faris, who is partying with two friends. Faris invites them to play Truth or Dare, and dares Hi-C to shoot Rell. When Hi-C refuses, a fight ensues in which Faris and her two guests are both shot and killed by Hi-C, frightening Rell. At the strip club after the run, Clarence accidentally smokes some Holy Shit, and experiences a drug trip in which he appears in the music video for "Faith" by George Michael, and Keanu speaks to him in the voice of Keanu Reeves. Rell begins to worry about his cousin and convinces him to just take Keanu and leave. The two do so, but are abducted on their way to their car by the actual Allentown Boys.

Rell and Clarence are tied to chairs and as the Allentown Boys prepare to torture them, Keanu claws through Rell's ropes, allowing him to free himself and Clarence, and they grab the Allentown Boys' guns. The Allentown boys continue to approach them, but Clarence and Rell completely unload the guns into them, seemingly killing them. On their way out of the building searching for Keanu, Rell and Clarence run into the Blips; Cheddar has discovered their real identities when they refuse to shoot a kidnapped Hulka, and forces them to come along to a meeting with the Mexican drug cartel at its mansion in the morning. At the meeting, the Blips meet with King Diaz's cousin Bacon, offering Clarence and Rell as the supposed Allentown Boys, but when Bacon also demands "Iglesias", Cheddar refuses and starts a gunfight between the two gangs. Clarence and Rell realize that the team-building exercise the two took the gang through has improved their communication; they pick up guns and shoot their way out of the mansion in pursuit of Bacon, who has taken Keanu, only for Rell to be shot in the leg and Clarence shot in the hand.

Rell – who never learned to drive – hijacks Bacon's escape car with Bacon and Keanu in the back; Clarence gives chase in a car that belongs to Bacon's son. The chase ends at Clarence's house, where Rell crashes into the front yard, sending Bacon flying through where the windshield of the car would have been, had it not been removed in the chase. Bacon gets up and attempts to shoot Rell, but Clarence runs him over. Bacon gets up again, but is shot and killed by Cheddar and the Blips. The Blips threaten Rell and Clarence, but Hi-C – secretly a police officer – breaks her cover and forces the Blips to drop their guns. When Cheddar attempts to shoot her, she kills him. The police arrive, and Hi-C reveals that Faris and her party guests were in on the whole operation and are all still alive, but Rell and Clarence will still have to go to jail for the activities they've taken part in, including the killing of the Allentown Boys. She promises to testify for leniency and agrees to go on a date with Rell after they get out of jail.

Six months later, Rell and Clarence have only three weeks left on their jail sentences, but have commanded respect among the inmates – including the remaining Blips – for killing the Allentown Boys. Hi-C, who has been taking care of Keanu, speaks with Rell through a visitation phone, where she reveals that she's just been to the veterinarian and discovered that Keanu has a rare disease: he will remain a kitten permanently.

In a post-credits scene, the Allentown Boys are revealed to have survived the shooting and get back into their car.



The film was officially announced by New Line Cinema in October 2014, with Peter Atencio directing.[4] Many sites reporting on the film had initially believed it to be a parody of the then recently released John Wick, but according to Atencio the two films were developed independently of each other, and the team was initially unaware of Wick until work on Keanu was already underway.[13] Keanu Reeves himself, who starred in Wick, was eventually in touch with the production, leading a dream sequence in the film to be modified with Reeves providing the voice of the titular kitten.[14] Reeves originally turned down the cameo offer but changed his mind after his sister showed him the film's trailers.

In May 2015, Method Man and Will Forte joined the cast, with Darrell Britt-Gibson being added the following month.[7][10][9] Filming began on June 1, 2015, in New Orleans, Louisiana,[15][16][17] and concluded on July 10. Seven tabby cats were used for the shoot.[18] Since Key is allergic to cats, he had to take a medication in order to interact with them.[18]


A work-in-progress print was screened at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas on March 13, 2016.[19]

Warner Bros. originally scheduled the film for release on April 22, 2016,[20] but in January 2016 the film was moved back a week to April 29, 2016.[21]


Box office[edit]

In the United States and Canada, Keanu opened alongside Mother's Day and Ratchet & Clank, and was projected to gross $10–14 million from 2,658 theaters in its opening weekend.[2] The film made $3.5 million on its first day, including $560,000 from Thursday night previews. The film went on to gross $9.5 million over the weekend, finishing third at the box office, behind The Jungle Book ($43.7 million) and The Huntsman: Winter's War ($9.6 million).[22] In its second weekend, the film grossed $3.3 million (a drop of 65.2%), finishing 5th, behind Captain America: Civil War ($179.1 million), The Jungle Book ($24.5 million), Mother's Day ($11.1 million) and The Huntsman: Winter's War ($3.9 million).[23]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 77%, based on 171 reviews, with an average rating of 6.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Keanu's absurd premise and compulsively-watchable starring duo add up to an agreeably fast-paced comedy that hits more than enough targets to make up for the misses."[24] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 63 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "generally-favorable reviews".[25] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[22]


Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Golden Trailer Awards Best Comedy "Take It" Won [26]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actor: Comedy Keegan-Michael Key Nominated [27]
Jordan Peele Nominated

Potential sequel[edit]

In a March 2017 Reddit AMA, Jordan Peele stated that "if we do a Keanu 2, I promise you we will do twice as many deaths as there are in John Wick 2."[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "KEANU (15)". British Board of Film Classification. June 8, 2016. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Verhoeven, Beatrice. "Disney's 'The Jungle Book' to Lead Third Weekend in a Row Ahead of 'Keanu'". TheWrap. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  3. ^ "Keanu (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Bowles, Scott (October 20, 2014). "Key & Peele's First Feature Film To Start Production Next Spring". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  5. ^ "Key and Peele Star in Keanu Movie Red-Band Trailer". Collider. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  6. ^ Callender, Samantha (January 27, 2016). "Interview: Tiffany Haddish Talks Homelessness, Comedy & the Power of Affirmations". The Source. Retrieved April 11, 2016.
  7. ^ a b Kroll, Justin (May 12, 2015). "Method Man Joins Key and Peele Comedy". Variety. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  8. ^ Hipes, Patrick (June 16, 2015). "Nia Long Cast In Key & Peele Movie 'Keanu'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Kit, Borys (May 28, 2015). "Will Forte to Co-Star With Key and Peele in Comedy 'Keanu' (Exclusive)". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  10. ^ a b Pedersen, Erik (June 3, 2015). "Josh Harto Finds 'Gold'; Raul Castillo Joins 'Special Correspondents' – Film Briefs". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 7, 2015.
  11. ^ Ford, Rebecca (June 23, 2015). "Rob Huebel Joins New Line Comedy 'Keanu'". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  13. ^ GHAHREMANI, TANYA. "Is 'Keanu' A Parody Of Keanu Reeves' 'John Wick'? Not If You Ask, Well, Everyone Who Worked On It". Bustle. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
  14. ^ Galuppo, Mia. "Keanu Reeves Lends His Voice to 'Keanu' Kitty". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  15. ^ "On the Set for 6/1/15: James Gunn Starts Shooting 'The Belko Experiment', Michael Keaton Begins Mcdonald's Biopic 'The Founder' & More". June 1, 2015. Archived from the original on April 22, 2016. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  16. ^ Scott, Mike (May 28, 2015). "Key and Peele's NOLA-shot 'Keanu,' Tom Cruise's 'Mena' get release dates". Retrieved June 7, 2015.
  17. ^ "Key and Peele's New Movie 'Keanu' Open Casting Call". June 2, 2015. Retrieved June 7, 2015.
  18. ^ a b Ford, Rebecca. "'Keanu' Kitten: How a Cat in a Hat Was Trained to Act for Key and Peele's Movie". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
  19. ^ Lincoln, Ross A. (March 13, 2016). "SXSW: Key & Peele's Unfinished 'Keanu' Gets Late-Night Screening Complete With Flying Kittens".
  20. ^ Pedersen, Erik (May 27, 2015). "Warner Bros Dates Catnapping Pic 'Keanu' & 'Going In Style' Remake For 2016". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  21. ^ Pedersen, Erik (January 12, 2016). "Warner Bros Moves Key & Peele Starrer 'Keanu' Back One Week - Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  22. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony; Busch, Anita. "'Jungle Book' Still Hot in Third Weekend with $35M–$36M; 'Mother's Day' Has Edge Over 'Keanu'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  23. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (May 8, 2016). "Disney's Spoils Of 'Civil War': $61M+ Saturday As 'Captain America' Heads To $181.8M". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  24. ^ "Keanu (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  25. ^ "Keanu reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  26. ^ "The 17th Annual Golden Trailer Award Nominees". Retrieved October 27, 2016.
  27. ^ Goodman, Jessica (July 31, 2016). "Teen Choice Awards 2016: See the full list of winners". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  28. ^ "Jordan Peele here. Writer/Director of GET OUT in theaters this month. Let's talk • r/IAmA". reddit.

External links[edit]