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quinta-feira, 17 de março de 2016
Key and Peele's Keanu expertly twists and subverts racial stereotypes – first-look review at SXSW
Comic duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele's action-comedy cat caper is littered with references to Keanu Reeves and George Michael
President Barack Obama succeeded in delivering his keynote speech, which opened the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, on Friday, without the aid of Luther, his fictitious "anger translator" from the sketch comedy show, Key & Peele.Written by and starring Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, the series ran for five seasons on US network Comedy Central, earning a devoted cult following.
But less than 36 hours after Obama’s address – a coup for the increasingly influential film, tech and music festival – cross town, Luther’s two creators took to the festival stage themselves, to introduce the first screening of their debut feature-length film, Keanu.
The duo play cousins who stumble into the dark underbelly of the LA drug wars, after Rell (Peele) acquires, then swiftly loses, a kitten – the titular Keanu – to a group of violent cat-napping gangsters. Posing as fellow drug kingpins, Rell and the highly strung Clarence (Key) attempt to infiltrate the notorious 17th Street Blips ("the ones who got kicked out of the Bloods and the Crips"), led by the thuggish Cheddar (rapper Method Man), in order to rescue Keanu, a tiny, nimble, impressively well-trained tabby.
Just as on the small-screen, where Key and Peele have become renowned for twisting and subverting racial stereotypes to comic effect, so also their big-screen personas are forced to abandon their safe, suburban rhetoric and demeanour in favour of profanity, posturing, and endless N-bombs.
Through grimy strip clubs and expansive Hollywood mansions, Clarence, aka "Shark Tank" attempts to coach the Blips in better team communication, and instill in them an appreciation for the music of George Michael, while Rell, "Tectonic", becomes embroiled in a drug-deal-gone-wrong with the actress Anna Faris, making a perfectly self-parodic cameo. And in keeping with the pair’s pop-culture savvy, the action-comedy cat caper is littered with references to other crime dramas, the canon of the original Keanu – actor Reeves – and the intersection of the two, the noir thriller John Wick.
In spite of the late screening time – VT didn’t roll until gone 12.45am – the Paramount Theatre, the festival’s largest venue, was initially fizzing with excited anticipation, stoked further by Key and Peele’s large leather holdall of souvenir kittens, which they lobbed into the audience. But energy levels flagged noticeably during the second half of the film, possibly due as much to the arrival of daylight saving – meaning the final credits rolled at 3.30am – as to the story dragging somewhat.
But as the film’s director, Peter Atencio, and Key and Peele themselves, were all at pains to point out, this was a "work-in-progress" screening – a category of the festival under which Amy Schumer showed an early cut of Trainwreck last year, and Paul Feig premiered Bridesmaids in 2011. "If you like it, good – that’s the movie," explained Peele before the curtain went up. "If you don’t, f--- you, we’re changing it; it’s going to be John Wick 2."