James Cole Clay // Film Critic
Comedy duo Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele have become sort of a phenomenon with their sketch program KEY & PEELE. The biting social commentary on gender and race has attracted millions of fans via their YouTube page. But those days have come to a close as they write and star in their feature debut KEANU, an unexpected last minute surprise for the fans at SXSW.
The excitement was at a fever pitch before the midnight start time with Key and Peele walking the red carpet along with their director Peter Atencio and co-star/comedian Rob Huebel.
KEANU focuses on two cousins who are attempting to find their stolen cat by posing as drug dealers. The simplistic plot and comedic chops should have allowed for bellylaughs-a-minute, but the film never finds its groove, despite the talent involved and confident visual direction from Atencio.
Before the film, or even the red carpet began, the duo walked down the line of badge holders and offered them either an individual selfie, or a t-shirt. It was easy to see the guys were having a blast interacting with some of their most passionate fans.
KEANU started nearly an hour late due, but they finally introduced the film to a roaring applause. They made clear that this was a “work-in-progress” in its first public screening and urged festivalgoers to tweet their reactions to generate buzz. And to finish warming up the crowd they threw dozens of plush Keanu kittens into the audience.
Reactions were mixed to the film, but Key and Peele’s presence, no doubt, has been made on SXSW 2016. New Line Cinema is releasing KEANU nationwide April 29.