A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the action comedy Keanu marks the big-screen debut of TV comedy duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. Even though the plot centers around a cute kitten, the content is frequently over the top and not for younger audiences. Strong, frequent violence includes guns and shooting, blood spurts, dead bodies, car chases, fighting, and more. Scenes set inside a strip club include topless women, and there are other sexual references, too. Several characters are drug dealers, and the main characters use drugs and drink alcohol on more than one occasion. Language is very strong, with multiple uses of "f--k," "s--t," the "N" word, "bitch," "ass," and more. All of that said, the movie does challenge racial and cultural stereotypes, and it sends messages about not judging others and being true to yourself.
What's the story?
Dumped by his girlfriend, Rell (Jordan Peele) finds a new lease on life when an adorable kitten, whom he names Keanu, appears on his doorstep. Little does he know that the feline has escaped from a drug lab. When Rell's apartment is ransacked and Keanu goes missing, he and his cousin Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) head into gangster territory to find the kitten. Posing as tough guys "Tectonic" and "Shark Tank," they meet with menacing drug lord Cheddar (Method Man) and are given a deal: If they help deliver a new street drug, Keanu will be returned. Unfortunately, everything goes south. Meanwhile, two mysterious, sinister killers are roaming the streets, and everyone seems to want to keep poor Keanu!
Is it any good?
After finding success as a comedy team on the small screen, Key and Peele make an effortless leap to the big one in this irreverent but consistently funny and good-hearted action-comedy. KEANU isn't terribly ambitious, and the guys don't really have anything in mind other than making us laugh. They have lots of fun playing with racial and cultural stereotypes, reminding us that people are people, and books shouldn't be judged by their covers.
Even better, Key and Peele make a great team; they're right up there with many of the movies' top cinematic comedy duos, playing off each other's personalities with wit and charm. They seem to truly enjoy each other's company, and it's infectious. (Peele co-wrote the screenplay but gave Key the most outrageous character.) Director Peter Atencio helps put together an exciting ride, with well-crafted fight and chase scenes and a third act that doesn't forget the jokes. Plus you can never go wrong with a cute kitten.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Keanu's violence. Is it necessary to the story? How does the movie's comic tone affect its impact? Does exposure to violent media desensitize kids to violence?
How are drugs and drinking portrayed in the movie? Are they glamorized? Why does that matter?
What do the main characters discover about the drug dealers? What kind of message does their discovery send? Why is it important to cast a critical eye on stereotypes?
Are there consequences for the main characters' actions? Why is that important?
- In theaters: April 29, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: August 2, 2016
- Cast: Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Method Man
- Director: Peter Atencio
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Cats, dogs, and mice
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence, language throughout, drug use and sexuality/nudity
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.