Keanu Reeves Didn’t Join The Movie ‘Keanu’ Till After It Was Done
Here’s a summary you might hear of the 2016 Key & Peele movie Keanu. It’s a spoof of Keanu Reeves films. It’s about guys hunting down gangsters who stole their kitten, just as John Wick was about a guy hunting down gangsters who killed his dog. The movie opens with a Matrix-inspired fight scene. The kitten is named Keanu and is voiced by Keanu Reeves, and Matrix music plays as he quotes Bill and Ted.
That’s a misleading summary. The movie wasn’t intended as a spoof of John Wick at all, and it really doesn’t come off as one when you see the whole thing. After the opening scene—a totally unrepresentatively elaborate fight sequence—there’s not a lot of Matrix stuff either. That one later scene with Matrix music is its own weird anomaly. It’s the only scene where the kitten talks, because it’s a drug-induced hallucination.
Despite what the poster suggests, the kitten isn’t a gun-toting sidekick, just a MacGuffin that Key & Peele and the various gangsters fight over. At least the movie didn’t stick the hallucination in the trailer to fool everyone into thinking it was a talking animal movie, like Kangaroo Jack did.
There’s a reason they didn’t stick that kitten talking with Keanu Reeves’ voice in the trailer. When they put out the trailer early in 2016, they didn’t even have Keanu Reeves in the film yet. Even when they debuted the film at the South by Southwest Festival in March, they still didn’t have Keanu Reeves in the film yet.
The studio had earlier contacted Keanu’s people to try to get him to cameo, but they turned them down. Only after seeing the trailer did Keanu reach out to Key & Peele, saying he’d be interested in doing something for this film that seemed to be named after him. They ran through some lines over Skype, he recorded them in Rome, and they found a place for them in the already finished film by extending the hallucination sequence just a little bit.
Few people saw 2016’s Keanu, compared with everyone who saw Jordan Peele’s next few movies. Few people saw any comedy movies in theaters this past decade. That's tragic, but at least there’s still one genre where low-budget movies see huge profits: horror.
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