When the news of Comedy Central sketch program Key & Peele‘s final episode first broke last July, it certainly felt like a sad occasion. Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key’s batty TV creation was a reliable source of ludicrous hilarity and tactfully-deployed racial commentary from week to week, and a broadcast schedule without it is definitely worse for wear. But judging from the newly unveiled red-band trailer for the Key & Peele vehicle Keanu, leaving the show behind may have been a blessing in disguise. The pair has moved on to the movies, and a run-time over 21 minutes has afforded them the freedom to dig a little deeper into a comic premise just as silly and adroit as anything on Key & Peele.
The title character is an overwhelmingly adorable kitty-cat that Peele’s character adopts in the wake of a bad breakup, but then loses after some local gang members rob his place. With a little help from his best friend (Key) and Will Forte doing a pretty solid impression of James Franco in Spring Breakers, he sets out on a mission to infiltrate the 17th Street Blips and return sweet, innocent Keanu to his rightful home. The core joke that the trailer communicates is the disconnect between expressions of blackness, exactly the sort of sensitive button the team’s erstwhile sketch show would’ve pushed. Key and Peele’s characters are a couple of buttoned-up everymen, but they feel the need to ‘black it up’ and act gangsta when trying to fit in with the street toughs that absconded with Keanu. (The biggest laugh of the trailer: Key responding “you went straight to the n-word” to Peele’s “blacker” affectation.) But of course such deft commentary will be counterbalanced by a fair measure of plain-and-simple craziness, if the presence of the Rock-afire Pizza Explosion in the background of one shot is any indicator.
With Keanu coming to theaters on April 29 and a new feature from the Lonely Island also on the docket for this summer, 2016’s shaping up to be a strong year for movie projects from beloved sketch comedy teams. One can only hope that Keanu won’t meet with the same fate as most feature debuts from sketch icons (Hot Rod, Mystery Team) by crashing at the box office and then finding a second life a few years later as comedy lovers gradually discover it on home video. Let’s all just appreciate it straight out of the gate, and go from there, yeah?
Take a look at the official theatrical poster while you’re at it, too: