Comedy duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele’s (Key & Peele) and their first motion picture, Keanu, released today in theaters nationwide. Keanu is an action comedy film about two friends who hatch a plan to rescue a kitten from a dangerous gangster. In order to get the cat back, they have to go through a series of wacky tasks to get Keanu.
The duo had a great sketch comedy show titled Key & Peele on Comedy Central. They ended the show on a high note after five successful seasons. Since then they have decided to take the leap from television to film.
Key and Peele came to the Cat Cafe in Oakland, California, to chat with me about their new film. Key spoke first.
“To us the spoof and parody genre has a lot of great movies out there. We just relish the opportunity to make a movie that had elements from some of our favorite films, but also stands out as its own movie. That is what we love about cinema you can make something iconic with a movie and we’re trying to do that. “
While filming the Key & Peele show for Comedy Central, the duo was in complete control of the voice and tone of the show. When they were approached about doing the film, the studio was sure they had two writers whom could be trusted to write quality content. The project came at a good time because the studio let them do exactly what they needed.
But in order to get the film done, they lobbied hard for a feline star. There are so many movies starring dogs, that cat movies are often left out. Maybe it is because they get a bad wrap? Jordan Peele explains.
“We get this question a lot and we realized this is the perfect opportunity and a perfect juxtaposition for a plot involving a kitten. The whole gangsta look we created just seems to work well.”
Their sketch comedy background helped them develop concepts and dialogue on the fly. Taking suggestions here and there worked, but they work best when they can filter their ideas through their own creative process. Sure, they get inspiration from outside sources, but they thrive best when they can improvise.
Keanu also explores stereotypes and tropes. Topics they are used to exploring on their former show. This is why they chose to play multiple parts within the same film.
“We play multiple parts. Almost like in sketch comedy, and we definitely have fun doing that. We wanted these characters to be manifestations of what we wish we could be,” said Key.
Key and Peele did not just work with one cat. They worked with many. During training, the cats were heavily exposed to human contact to get them adjusted to the busy atmosphere on a movie set. This is good for the animals as it helped to quell their anxiety. It’s hard to work with a frightened kitten experiencing a meltdown.
“But they were just as adorable as they could be,” said Key.
The cat training was important to getting the right scene, Peele mentions.
“Some of the cats were trained to run and crawl. Other cats were trained to relax in our arms. So there was a variation of reactions when it was needed on set.”
Key and Peele are two comedians on a mission to bring knee-slapping laughs back to Hollywood. The Hollywood Reporter states that the duo is already working on producing a remake of the famed 1984 comedy Police Academy. If you enjoy films like Hot Shots, Airplane, and Naked Gun, Keanu is the film for you!
[Image via Warner Bros.]