"It's like John Wick but with a cat"—that's how I've been describing Keanu, which, as its title makes apparent, is an obvious homage to the Keanu Reeves-starring action thriller about one man's road to extreme vengeance after his dog gets killed. Except, this is a Key and Peele project, which means the cat doesn't die and smoldering looks from Keanu Reeves are replaced with befuddled ones from the two comedians. "If you don't like it, it's just gonna be John Wick 2," Keegan-Michael Key warned the packed theater at a late-night screening at SXSW last night, adding that since what they were showing was a preview of an unfinished project, what ends up in theaters on April 29 might look a bit different. "If you don't like the movie, shut the fuck up," director Peter Atencio jokingly added.
Well, no need to shut the fuck up here, because Keanu is really good—like, way better than it has any right to be. And I'm not sure how much more could be improved from the supposed work in progress. Even though the premise makes it seem like Keanu would only hold up as a trailer joke or a short SNL parody, Key and Peele, director Peter Atencio, and Peele's co-writer Alex Rubens have somehow managed to make a full movie out of the ridiculous synopsis about two regular-ass dudes posing as dangerous gangsters to retrieve a kitten.
In the film—the pair's first feature-length project since their recently ended Comedy Central Show (RIP)—Jordan Peele plays a sad, recently dumped dude named Rell who finds new life when a cat appears on his doorstep. Let me tell you, MY HEART MAY HAVE LITERALLY EXPLODED IN THE THEATER. But then, as if his life could get any worse, Rell gets his adorable new kitten taken away from him during a break-in, which is when he and his cousin Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) go undercover as drug dealers to retrieve him from a dangerous thug named Cheddar (played by Method Man). How anyone can ever take a guy named Cheddar seriously is just another hilarious side-plot.
Along the way, the two make fun of just how un-gangster they are (including Keegan-Michael's very white voice) while trying to out-tough each other (though their boasts usually end up being something embarrassing along the lines of, "I saw an exclusive screening of The Blair Witch Project once"). For the almost-two-hour-long feature film, the two bounce off jokes seamlessly, even during parts in which the scene-stealing cat is absent.
The effortlessness is even more impressive when considering the scope of developing a full movie rather than the sketches that they're more familiar with. Keanu rarely falls flat, and is uplifted by a hilarious supporting cast and an unforgettable cameo from none other than Anna Faris. Like last summer's Paul Fieg film Spy, Keanu succeeds in making flight-or-fight situations with people who have no clue what is happening and are not at all equipped the situation at hand. And like the former, this feline flick will have you laughing until it hurts. Judging by the sound of uproarious laughter around me, it's safe to say the verdict was unanimous down here in Austin.
Keanu hits theaters on April 29.
To read more of Complex's coverage of SXSW 2016, click here.