Method Man

Keanu (2016, Peter Atencio)

Keanu. Keanu is a movie about a missing kitten named Keanu. Keanu is so cute, no one can see him without falling in love with him; Keanu isn’t just the world’s cutest kitten, he’s the world’s sweetest kitten too. You might wonder why I’m almost fifty words in and haven’t talked about the movie yet, but I am. Keanu, as a film, is very much about the viewer adoring Keanu, the kitten. Because Keanu’s not just sweet or cute, he’s also badass. And adorable while he’s being badass.

Okay, time to talk about the movie.

So it’s really funny. Jordan Peele finds the kitten (or the kitten comes to him–I’m not sure why the script doesn’t treat the kitten as more magical, they could’ve gotten away with it). Someone breaks into his apartment, steals the kitten. Peele and his friend, Keegan-Michael Key, go to rescue the cat from a gang. There’s a lot of setup but it’s all very efficient. Keanu doesn’t overuse Keanu, the kitten. The kitten isn’t in most of the movie. The kitten is the T-Rex. He’s not the MacGuffin, because, even though Key and Peele grow as human beings throughout the film and learn things about themselves, Keanu isn’t deep. It’s just good. It follows a certain buddy movie blueprint, it doesn’t play with the medium, it’s just good. It’s funny and inventive.

It’s also good it isn’t deep because, frankly, director Atencio couldn’t hack it. He’s got very solid technical support from cinematographer Jas Shelton and editor Nicholas Monsour, but Atencio has absolutely no personality. And he directs actors far too generically. It’s blandly directed.

Excellent performances from the entire cast–Key and Peele are a comedy duo, which I should’ve mentioned earlier. They’re really funny. Method Man is great as the heavy, who also loves the kitten, of course. There are some problems but it’s the script, not the actors–the Luis Guzmán cameo could be better, Nia Long isn’t in it enough, Will Forte’s more amusing than funny. But then there’s this team building scene and it does some exposition while still being hilarious. The cameos just aren’t integrated well enough; not a surprise given Atencio. The performances still work out though.

It’s just a solid picture. And that kitten’s adorbs.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Peter Atencio; written by Jordan Peele and Alex Rubens; director of photography, Jas Shelton; edited by Nicholas Monsour; music by Steve Jablonsky and Nathan Whitehead; production designer, Aaron Osborne; produced by Keegan-Michael Key, Peele, Peter Principato, Paul Young and Joel Zadak; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Jordan Peele (Rell Williams), Keegan-Michael Key (Clarence Goobril), Tiffany Haddish (Hi-C), Method Man (Cheddar), Darrell Britt-Gibson (Trunk), Jason Mitchell (Bud), Jamar Malachi Neighbors (Stitches), Luis Guzmán (Bacon), Nia Long (Hannah) and Will Forte (Hulka).


The Sitter (2011, David Gordon Green)

It’s somewhat shocking, given Jonah Hill’s presence and David Gordon Green directing, The Sitter is such a mess.

Would a remake of Adventures in Babysitting with a listless college dropout in the lead instead of Elisabeth Shue be funny? Maybe. Probably even. Sadly, Sitter doesn’t give Babysitting any source credit (although some of the scenes are lifted) and the lead isn’t a listless college dropout. Oh, Hill’s “character” is supposed to be a listless college dropout, but he’s really just playing the fat kid from Superbad.

The film runs just over eighty minutes and there’s barely enough story for it. Green’s disinterest in the project is obvious–one has to wonder if it was a contractual obligation for he and Hill. By the third act, Green isn’t even pretending. Hill manages to solve all of his babysitting charges’ problems in the run time, each in exceptionally contrived scenes.

There are some funny moments and the film has good performances, but eighty minutes of outtakes with Sam Rockwell and J.B. Smoove goofing off as drug dealers would probably be a better (and more narratively cohesive) project.

The script is the conspicuous offender, but the fault lies more with Green and producer Michael De Luca. The Sitter is a concept without a narrative; everyone just pretends it isn’t a disaster. The end credits even go so far as to act like the characters are memorable with postscripts. It’s awful.

Sadly, the film’s occasional (unintentional?) interesting aspects go uncultivated.

The Sitter‘s a waste.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by David Gordon Green; written by Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka; director of photography, Tim Orr; edited by Craig Alpert; music by Jeff McIlwain and David Wingo; production designer, Richard A. Wright; produced by Michael De Luca; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Jonah Hill (Noah Griffith), Landry Bender (Blithe), Kevin Hernandez (Rodrigo), Max Records (Slater), Sam Rockwell (Karl), J.B. Smoove (Julio), Ari Graynor (Marisa Lewis), Kylie Bunbury (Roxanne), Erin Daniels (Mrs. Pedulla), D.W. Moffett (Dr. Pedulla), Jessica Hecht (Sandy Griffith), Bruce Altman (Jim Griffith), Method Man (Jacolby) and Sean Patrick Doyle (Garv).


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