It was a beautiful Tuesday afternoon when I was greeted by security guards outside the new Le Cat Café in North Philly. Two men in suits gestured me into a doorway titled “Keanu’s Crib,” flanked on both sides by six–foot tall posters of the namesake kitten in a do–rag. Method Man of Wu–Tang Clan and Peele, of the iconic comedic duo of Key and Peele, were hosting a roundtable amongst snoozing cats in support of their new movie Keanu, hitting Philly theaters on April 29th. The film follows two cousins, played by Key and Peele, as they feign the thug life and join a gang of “Blips” (read: Bloods + Crips) in order to reclaim a kitten that was robbed from them by a gangster named Cheddar (played by Method Man). Phew. 

Jordan Peele and Alex Rubens, a writer for Community and Key and Peele, both hold writing credits on the film. And the film has been gaining steam ever since its premiere at SXSW last month. 

Sitting down to a table of stuffed plush kitties and Keanu–printed sugar cookies, Peele and Method Man exuberantly discussed their involvement with the film. “It’s all about duality,” began Peele, describing the simultaneous existence of both an artist and a warrior in his headspace. “You put a kitten in Method Man’s arm and all of a sudden they’re a force–multiplier.” Much of the film plays on juxtapositions such as these, like a race commentary joke occurring directly before a scene of a man being swallowed by a python. Peele says that he and Key address these two warring personae inside them by trying to push buttons in their comedy, pissing people off and making them laugh.

Continuing his monopoly of the roundtable, Peele remarked that he was ready to make the jump from sketch comedy to full–length films. “The biggest difference with this one is that you have to sustain a story. You have to ground it, you have to give it a heart, and so Keanu takes us through this journey and I think people laugh and they also care about the characters." 

Peele brought his love for action and violence into the film, including several bloodily comedic shootouts. “It’s very action–packed but based on our favorite type of genre: cool movies.” Citing his love for Liam Neeson movies, he remarked, “This movie was about taking us and putting us into that over the top violent world and seeing what the everyday guy would do. Fish outta water.”

While not a particularly stylish or interesting story, Keanu is great for the genre it nods at: that specific type of mediocre action–comedy that stoners flock to on an idle Saturday afternoon. The best parts of Keanu come out in the over–the–top almost parody–like sequences of the film, such as when they go to sell drugs to Anna Faris in her Hollywood home. 

As the conversation started to round up, the burden of preparing a question fell on an unprepared Drexel undergrad. Even after apologizing that his moobs were sweating, Method Man didn’t believe him and demanded, “Lemme see ya nipple!” To which the Drexel boy responded “It’s like a rap movie up in here,” and proceeded to pose the question “What’s so gangsta about a cat?”

Peele responded logically, saying “We took the cutest thing in the world and we put it in the craziest situation.” Method Man opted for a more direct approach, pointing to a picture of Keanu the cat and replying, “I mean look at this bitch man. He looks like Justin fucking Bieber." 

As for the future, Peele is producing a pilot for Tracey Morgan on FX and finishing edits on Get Out, the feature horror movie he directed that is gonna “push some buttons (again) and scare the shit out of people.” He says that he and Key will always be doing movies together. Method Man said, “Nothing. I’m on this movie.”

 


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