KEY AND PEELE ARE COOL CATS IN KEANU
N A HOT LOUISIANA day, Empire is in the grounds of a mansion with a huge outdoor fountain. It’s the sort of place usually owned by cinematic drug lords that winds up as the location for a full-on shootout. And, right on cue, a hail of bullets smashes into the wall of said fountain, while Jordan Peele, one half of arguably the hottest comedy duo right now, dives for cover and crawls on his belly to a safer position. “It’s our tribute to Scarface,” beams Peele’s partner, Keeganmichael Key. “But more grounded.”
For the past five years, Key and Peele have worked on, well, Key & Peele, one of the sharpest sketch shows on US TV. Most comedy double acts, whether it’s Morecambe & Wise, Pegg & Frost or Ant & Dec, eventually outgrow the small screen and head for the big. Which led Key, Peele and long-time director Peter Atencio to Keanu.
It’s not, as you might suspect, a biopic of everyone’s favourite Beirut-born action star, but an actioncomedy about a cat. Keanu is a precious kitten belonging to Peele’s Rell. When he is catnapped, our hapless heroes — Peele a deadbeat stoner, Key an uptight family man — are plunged into a maelstrom of madcap misadventures and a deep appreciation of George Michael. “Given what we do,” says Key, “it seemed logical to make our first movie a caper. It has kind of a Fletch feel to it.” The duo’s other inspirations range from Heat to The Last Boy Scout. “It’s very close to how Keegan and I would act if we found ourselves in these circumstances,” adds Peele, who co-wrote with Alex Rubens.
The decision to make the Macguffin an adorable kitty was a no-brainer. “We knew the movie had to have heart,” says Key. “Plus we thought we could make a billion dollars rather than a hundred million with a cute little kitten.” The rationale for his name is less clear. “Keanu Reeves is the only guy we know called Keanu,” explains Peele. “We figured the world deserved another one.” Which is, perhaps, all the rationale you need. SIMON BRAUND
KEANU IS OUT THIS SUMMER.