Tag Archives: Will Forte

Keanu (2016, Peter Atencio)

Keanu. Keanu is a movie about a missing kitten named Keanu. Keanu is so cute, no one can see him without falling in love with him; Keanu isn’t just the world’s cutest kitten, he’s the world’s sweetest kitten too. You might wonder why I’m almost fifty words in and haven’t talked about the movie yet, but I am. Keanu, as a film, is very much about the viewer adoring Keanu, the kitten. Because Keanu’s not just sweet or cute, he’s also badass. And adorable while he’s being badass.

Okay, time to talk about the movie.

So it’s really funny. Jordan Peele finds the kitten (or the kitten comes to him–I’m not sure why the script doesn’t treat the kitten as more magical, they could’ve gotten away with it). Someone breaks into his apartment, steals the kitten. Peele and his friend, Keegan-Michael Key, go to rescue the cat from a gang. There’s a lot of setup but it’s all very efficient. Keanu doesn’t overuse Keanu, the kitten. The kitten isn’t in most of the movie. The kitten is the T-Rex. He’s not the MacGuffin, because, even though Key and Peele grow as human beings throughout the film and learn things about themselves, Keanu isn’t deep. It’s just good. It follows a certain buddy movie blueprint, it doesn’t play with the medium, it’s just good. It’s funny and inventive.

It’s also good it isn’t deep because, frankly, director Atencio couldn’t hack it. He’s got very solid technical support from cinematographer Jas Shelton and editor Nicholas Monsour, but Atencio has absolutely no personality. And he directs actors far too generically. It’s blandly directed.

Excellent performances from the entire cast–Key and Peele are a comedy duo, which I should’ve mentioned earlier. They’re really funny. Method Man is great as the heavy, who also loves the kitten, of course. There are some problems but it’s the script, not the actors–the Luis Guzmán cameo could be better, Nia Long isn’t in it enough, Will Forte’s more amusing than funny. But then there’s this team building scene and it does some exposition while still being hilarious. The cameos just aren’t integrated well enough; not a surprise given Atencio. The performances still work out though.

It’s just a solid picture. And that kitten’s adorbs.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Peter Atencio; written by Jordan Peele and Alex Rubens; director of photography, Jas Shelton; edited by Nicholas Monsour; music by Steve Jablonsky and Nathan Whitehead; production designer, Aaron Osborne; produced by Keegan-Michael Key, Peele, Peter Principato, Paul Young and Joel Zadak; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Jordan Peele (Rell Williams), Keegan-Michael Key (Clarence Goobril), Tiffany Haddish (Hi-C), Method Man (Cheddar), Darrell Britt-Gibson (Trunk), Jason Mitchell (Bud), Jamar Malachi Neighbors (Stitches), Luis Guzmán (Bacon), Nia Long (Hannah) and Will Forte (Hulka).


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The Watch (2012, Akiva Schaffer)

The Watch deals in caricature and stereotype. Ben Stiller’s the anal-retentive, Vince Vaughn (can anyone even remember when he tried acting) is the aging bro, Jonah Hill’s the kid in his early twenties who lives with his mom (and hordes guns, which dates the film) and Richard Ayoade’s the deadpan, socially awkward British guy. If anything, hopefully The Watch at least got one person to see Ayoade’s good work.

Oh, and Rosemarie DeWitt’s the sturdy, but doesn’t have enough to do wife (to Stiller). Actually, more than anyone else in the cast, Will Forte has the most to do as the dumb local cop. He at least gets to emote. Vaughn should get to emote because he has a whole (lame) subplot with daughter Erin Moriarty (who, like DeWitt, Forte and Ayoade, acts instead of apes), but it’s Vaughn and he doesn’t. Obnoxious charm is supposed to carry him, just like awkward charm is supposed to carry Hill and persnickety charm is supposed to carry Stiller.

Watching The Watch, I couldn’t help but think of it as ephemera. None of the jokes are smart enough on their own– Jared Stern’s script, with a credited revision from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, has no aspirations. Not even to be appreciated multiple times. The Watch is designed to amuse once and never too much. Thanks to Akiva Shaffer’s mediocre direction, comes off like an unambitious episode of “Home Improvement.” One with a lot of product placement.

But, thanks to the cast, it’s amusing enough. They’re good at their schticks and the movie does move rather well. It’s a little too forced with its attempts at edgy humor, but the whole thing is too forced. Shaffer’s doing an alien invasion movie without, apparently, any knowledge of any alien invasion film ever made.

Really bland photography from Barry Peterson doesn’t help anything and Christophe Beck’s music (which starts all right) doesn’t either.

In trying too hard to be dumb, The Watch occasionally succeeds. Though the pointlessness of Billy Crudup’s (uncredited) supporting role sort of sums up the entire misdirection of the film.

Everyone should watch “The IT Crowd” instead.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Akiva Schaffer; written by Jared Stern, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg; director of photography, Barry Peterson; edited by Dean Zimmerman; music by Christophe Beck; production designer, Doug J. Meerdink; produced by Shawn Levy; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Ben Stiller (Evan), Vince Vaughn (Bob), Jonah Hill (Franklin), Richard Ayoade (Jamarcus), Rosemarie DeWitt (Abby), Erin Moriarty (Chelsea), Will Forte (Sgt. Bressman), R. Lee Ermey (Manfred) and Billy Crudup (Paul).


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