What Is the Joke in Keanu?

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Keanu is a movie about a couple of black dudes who try to save a kitten by pretending to be drug dealers. But is it supposed to be funny because the black guy really loves his kitten? Is it about the kitten loving him back? Is the joke about not being black enough? Not being tough enough?


Is the joke about what it means to be black? Is the joke how many times you can say nigga in a movie made for white people? Is the joke about nigga-nigga-nigga? Is the joke about the word being a badge of cool? Is it that two black guys who “act white” need to “act black” to infiltrate a group of black drug dealers? Is the joke that it’s so illogically simple for them to join a drug crew that it makes the plot faulty to begin with?

Is the joke about stereotypes? Is it about shootouts, dumb punchlines and a lame Anna Faris cameo? The idea of blackness being broad and specific at the same time? Is it about dismantling expectations? Is the joke that Key and Peele do a poor job of executing that concept in a smart way?

Is the joke about the cutest kitten on earth being kidnapped? Or that Keanu doesn’t get nearly enough screen time in his own movie? Is the joke about a kitten being so adorable it’s worth risking your life over? Or that they’re trying to save the kitten but not even the kitten can save this movie? Is the joke that it’s weird for a black guy to love George Michael? That Keegan-Michael Key’s character Clarence’s newfound black aggression turns his wife on?

Is the joke that you’re just supposed to laugh and not think about it? Is the joke that this movie is wildly unfunny? And feels nothing like a movie? Just one endless sketch? Or is the joke that I shamelessly watched two hours of a bad movie because it stars a kitten?

Image via screenshot/Keanu


Anna Rose

The joke is supposed to be at the expense of action movies where the heroes are on a quest to save the damsel in distress. This movie is making fun of that by putting a cat in the damsel role and turning the hyper-masculine heroes into cat daddies.