Is 'Keanu' A Parody Of Keanu Reeves' 'John Wick'? Not If You Ask, Well, Everyone Who Worked On It
by Tanya Ghahremani
If you were one of the many people who, upon hearing that the plot of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele's upcoming movie Keanu, immediately made a connection between the film and Keanu Reeves' 2014 movie, John Wick, you're not alone. When the film was announced — and again when the first trailer for Keanuwas released — every film industry news site from CinemaBlend to Deadline name-dropped John Wick whilst describing Keanu. It makes sense: Wick was about a retired hitman, played by Reeves, who set out to avenge his pet puppy, Daisy, after she was killed by mobsters during a home invasion. Keanu, on the other hand, is about two men, Rell and Clarence (Peele and Key, respectively), who set out to find their adorable pet kitten, Keanu, after he's kidnapped by a Los Angeles gang. The similarities are apparent right off the bat. However, calling Keanu a parody of John Wick would be wrong — a fact that director Peter Atencio wants to make clear.
During a visit to the New Orleans set of the film in July, I asked Atencio, Key, and Peele about the possible connection — could John Wick be why the name "Keanu" was chosen for the cat? It turns out that although the name Keanu was chosen because of Reeves, the name has nothing to do with a certain Keanu film.
"You know, my character, Rell, is a movie nerd, he’s movie buff," says Peele. "This movie is a love letter to film. And I think that combined with the fact that ‘Keanu’ is one of those names… it’s funny because it only belongs to one person, you know what I mean? Like, any name like that, like Sigourney, or Joaquin, conjures up… it’s automatically funny to me. But yeah, he’s the leading man, he’s the Hollywood kitten, he’s the hero."
In fact, if you ask Atencio, they were working on Keanu first — before John Wick was even a thing. "We were working on [Keanu] before [John Wick] came out. There was a brief moment of, like, 'What? There’s a movie about what coming out?'" says Atencio.
"I thought we had been poached somehow, like our idea, we were being subverted," Peele adds.
However, the similar plots of the films seem to be where the connections stop. "[They're] very different," Atencio elaborates, before joking, "[Keanu] is much more violent."
So, there you have it. Keanu and John Wick may sound like they're very similar films — close enough to make one a parody of the other — but they not. They just both happen to either star or reference Reeves, and feature adorable animals. But, let's be real: What more could you want from a movie?