Keanu

New Line Cinema / Warner Brothers

Rated R for violence, sexuality, nudity, drug use, incessant ethnic slurs and pervasive profanity

Suburban Nerds Masquerade As Hardened Gangstas To Retrieve Cat From The ‘Hood

Rell (Jordan Peele) was so inconsolable after being dumped by his girlfriend that getting high didn’t help ease the pain. But then, while crying on the shoulder of his cousin Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key), a cute, little kitten appeared on his doorstep.

Seeing this as a sign of divine intervention, Rell adopted the adorable stray, which he proceeded to feed, bathe and name Keanu, Hawaiian for “cool breeze.” But after bonding for the next couple of weeks, his newfound state of bliss ended abruptly with the kidnapping of Keanu during a break in by members of the 17th Street Blips.

The Blips are a ruthless drug gang from the wrong side of the proverbial tracks. So, Rell realizes that to rescue his pet he’s going to have to venture into the heart of the ghetto.

This is a tall order for a nerd from the burbs totally unfamiliar with the ways of the ‘hood. For some reason, he enlists the assistance of his equally-geeky cousin, whose wife (Nia Long) and daughter (Jordyn A. Davis) very conveniently just happen to be going away for the weekend.

Rell and Clarence adopt gangsta’ alias, Tectonic and Shark Tank, respectively, before confronting Cheddar (Method Man), the Blips’ bloodthirsty kingpin. They also deliberately abandoned their bourgie black accents for grammar-butchering Ebonics laced with profanity, the N-word and lots of double negatives.

Of course, retrieving Keanu proves to be quite complicated, as not only Cheddar but a Latino crime boss (Luis Guzman) has staked a claim to the cat (which he refers to as Iglesias). And it is very important that the cousins never admit their middle-class roots lest they risk being exposed as lacking street cred.

Thus unfolds Keanu, a one-trick pony or, should I say, a one-trick kitty directed by Peter Atencio, director of 54 episodes of the Key And Peel TV show. This fish-out-of-water comedy repeatedly relies on the theme that these guys have no idea how to survive in the slums on the run from myriad maladroit morons. That running joke gets tired after about 10 minutes, but the stretch-o-matic skit format insists on beating the dead horse for another hour and a half.

That’s irritainment!

 

Fair (1 star)

Running time: 98 minutes

 

 

Dough

Menemsha Films / Viva Films

Unrated

Jewish Baker Takes Muslim Apprentice In Unlikely-Buddies Dramedy

Nat (Jonathan Pryce) is the owner of Dayan and Son, a Kosher bakery located in London. The store’s name is a bit of a misnomer since he’s been the only Dayan working there ever since his father passed away.

Nat’s disappointed that his own son, Stephen (Daniel Caltagirone), opted to become a lawyer rather than join the family business. Consequently, he had to settle for teaching the tricks of the trade to a neighborhood kid (Dominic Garfield), only to have that sole assistant eventually stolen away by Sam Cotton (Philip Davis), a conniving competitor planning to open another bakery right next door.

To add insult to injury, Cotton is also wining and dining Nat’s lonely landlord Joanna Silverman (Pauline Collins), not out of affection, but to buy the building for a song. If successful, he’ll be able to kick Nat out once the lease expires. Worst of all, Dayan and Son is having trouble staying afloat due to a dwindling clientele that’s dying off.

Nat’s fortunes change soon after he hires Ayyash (Jerome Holder), a teenaged Muslim immigrant from Darfur, as his new apprentice. For, it isn’t long before the store is attracting long lines of customers.

But what Nat doesn’t know is that Ayyash has been spiking the batter with marijuana. That’s the reason for the sudden increase in satisfied shoppers. Of course, it’s just a matter of time before the cat’s out of the bag, and matters come to a head when the proprietor gets an explanation for his skyrocketing profits.

Thus unfolds Dough, a tender-hearted dramedy directed by John Goldschmidt (Maschenka). The cross-cultural adventure milks most of its humor and tension out of the friendship grudgingly forged between unlikely-buddies Nat and Ayyash. The picture effectively contrasts the former’s being old, Jewish, white, British and middle-class with the latter’s being young, Muslim, black, African and living hand to mouth.

The film also features a surprising number of intriguing subplots, including a love triangle involving Nat, Joanna and Cotton; Ayyash and his mother’s (Natasha Gordon) becoming homeless, Nat’s neglected granddaughter (Melanie Freeman) craving quality time with her grampa, and Ayyash’s antagonizing a vengeful drug dealer (Ian Hart).

By the closing tableau, all the loose ends are tied up quite satisfactorily, and we’ve also learned a very timely lesson in tolerance. ‘Dough’-lightful!

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Running time: 94 minutes

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

For movies opening May 6, 2016

 

A Bigger Splash (R for profanity, graphic sexuality, frontal nudity and brief drug use) Erotic thriller, loosely based on La Piscine (1969), revolving around a rock icon (Tilda Swinton) whose vacation with her boyfriend (Matthias Schoenaerts) on a remote Italian island is disrupted by the arrival of an old friend (Ralph Fiennes) with his daughter (Dakota Johnson) in tow. Featuring Lily McMenamy, Aurore Clement and Elena Bucci.

 

Captain America: Civil War (PG-13 for extended sequences of violence, action and mayhem) 13th episode in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series finds the Avengers split into a pair of adversarial factions, freedom lovers led by Captain America (Chris Evans), and a pro-government camp led by Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.). With Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Paul Rudd.

 

Beautiful Something (Unrated) Homoerotic ensemble drama following the fates of four gay males (Colman Domingo, Zack Ryan, John Lescault and Brian Sheppard) dealing with relationships over the course of one very eventful evening. With David Melissaratos, Grant Lancaster and Matthew Rios.

 

Dark Horse (PG for mature themes and mild epithets) Inspirational, rags-to-riches documentary recounting how a group of working-class Welshmen successfully pooled their resources to raise a great racehorse.

 

Elsetree 1976 (Unrated) Nostalgic documentary featuring fond reminiscences by extras and actors who played supporting roles in the original Star Wars movie. Cast includes Paul Blake, Jeremy Bulloch and John Chapman.

 

A Monster With A Thousand Heads (Unrated) Revenge thriller about a desperate woman (Jana Raluy) who takes the law into her own hands after her insurance company denies medical care for cancer-stricken husband. Featuring Sebastian Aguirre, Hugo Algores and Emilio Echevarria. (In Spanish with subtitles)

 

Mothers And Daughters (PG-13 for mature themes and brief drug use) Ensemble drama serendipitously interweaving numerous characters’ meditations on motherhood. Cast includes Susan Sarandon, Selma Blair, Sharon Stone, Courteney Cox, Christina Ricci and Mira Sorvino.

 

Pele: Birth Of A Legend (PG for smoking, mature themes and mild epithets) Soccer biopic chronicling the legendary Pele’s (Kevin de Paula) rise from the slums of Sao Paulo to lead Brazil to its first World Cup victory when he was just 17 years old. With Colm Meaney, Vincent D’Onofrio and Rodrigo Santoro.

 

Phantom Of The Theatre (Unrated) Haunted house horror flick, set in Shanghai, revolving around the reopening of a cursed theater, 13 years after a performance troupe was murdered there. Co-starring Ruby Lin, Simon Yam and Tony Yo-ning Yang. (In Mandarin with subtitles)

 

Rabin In His Own Words (Unrated) Reverential biopic about Yitzhak Rabin (1922-1995), narrated by the assassinated Israeli Prime Minister himself via a combination of home movies and archival news footage. (In Hebrew with subtitles)

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