Blah blah blah. This movie is R. (The next two are all audiences! I promise!)
This movie should have been amazing. It's what I set myself up for. For those unaware of the global phenomenon that was Key & Peele, Jordan Peele and Keegan Michael Key are ridiculously smart and gutsy comedians. Their Comedy Central program destroyed the expectations of what a sketch show could be. Perhaps we are putting too much pressure on them as a culture, but I honestly thought the transition to film would be transcendent. It wasn't.
Clarence (Key) is a high strung husband on a weekend free from his wife and kid. His best pall Rell (Peele) is a man child who has just been dumped yet again. The characters are the characters you've seen dozens of times. The only thing that brings Rell out of his depressed stupor is the appearance of a tiny kitten, the lone escapee of a gangland massacre. When the cat is stolen by a rival gang, Rell and Clarence pretend to be gang members to get the cat back.
There's a lot going on here. The movie is playing on the action comedy tropes that many action comedies do. The parodies of directors such as John Woo are cute and fun, but they aren't gutbusting. In many ways, this movie tries to be Hot Fuzz, a commentary on the Hollywood action film while grounding the stories in the mundane. Clarence's over-the-top nice guy is entertaining if unbelievable, while Rell's light switch personality snags the duo back into the story, despite belief.
Like Hot Fuzz, the film stands on the shoulders of popular culture, making references to New Jack City, John Wick, a George Michael music video, and (of course) The Matrix. This is where the film stands out. Like Family Guy's obsession with getting every beat of parody dead on, director Peter Atencio manages to capture the tone of all of his references perfectly. This really carries over from the Key & Peele television show with its attention to detail. (Note: Watch the True Detective style credits of the show's later seasons.) But this isn't surprising. Atencio worked on the program as well. He gets the duo. If the duo like pop culture, he's going to make sure that it is done right.
The biggest problem with the movie is that it never felt special. Key and Peele are innovators, so to present simply a movie done by the both of them seem lazy. Yes, it is a reference to Hollywood action. Yes, it lampoons the inner city subgenre well. But other movies have done that and possibly have done it better. There isn't much new here outside of a tone that seems to carry over from the TV show.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.