Written by: Michael LeSieur
Directed by: Greg Mottola
Starring: Zack Galifianikas, Isla Fisher, Jon Hamm, Gal Gadot
Running Time: 105 minutes
Here’s the complete Keeping Up with the Joneses review:
In suburban Atlanta, a not-so-perfect couple gets involved with an espionage plot when they discover that their perfect new neighbors are actually government spies.
The Story: In the Neighbourhood
Jeff (Zack Galifianikas) and Karen Gaffney (Isla Fisher) are a characteristic suburban couple with nothing to do during the summer after packing their kids off to camp. Faced with the task of overcoming a mundane routine, they befriend the new couple in their cul-de-sac – a dashing Tim Jones (Jon Hamm) and his even more gorgeous wife Natalie (Gal Gadot). But not all is merry with this flawless couple as Karen starts noticing that there is something off about them.
The Gaffneys embark on an investigation (read: creepy stalking) wherein they discover that the Joneses are in fact, government undercover operatives sent to spy on them. Jeff undergoes heartbreak as he thought he had a real bond with Tim – a boring HR job with an aerospace agency didn’t really leave him with too many friends.
A bottleneck in their investigation reveals that the Joneses were actually stationed as protectors for the Gaffneys – a fact that doesn’t go down too well with the latter. Above it all, the Gaffneys discover that they are now part of an ongoing scandal involving underworld criminals and a mole within the company Jeff works for. They must now set out on a cringeworthy series of dramatic events, with a few laughs to save us all from the bullets of boredom.
Greg, Set, Go
The action comedy genre is like a ready-to-cook meal – it’s easy to make, has the right formula and is surefire value for money. It must take some unusual talent to mess that up. This comes as a surprise, especially from director Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland) who has given us half decent movies in comedy before.
Guess the lack of adult content doesn’t really suit his style.
There are a few good laughs offered in the film. The film had the potential to be a comedic masterpiece, but stumbles at almost every opportunity. Mottola’s films are usually hitting the right notes, be it with the humor, the emotional aspects or the message within. Unfortunately, the film does nothing of the sort except providing a good premise.
Most comedies succeed due to the substance in the characters – things and events that make them real. The Gaffneys start off with such promises but turn into inexplicable versions of themselves which removes any sort of realism.
The villain in this flick is behind the screen, rather than in front of it. Michael LeSeiur provides dismal screenplay with distinctly loud artwork by the cinematography team that screams ‘’Look at me, I’m Suburban.’’ Jake Monaco provides a middling score.
Casting and Acting: Zack of all Trades
A movie with a quartet of actors such as this one, especially Zack Galifianikas (The Hangover trilogy, Due Date) as the lead, don’t usually require too much marketing; People go in expecting entertainment.
Bumbling around as Jeff Gaffney, Zack executes his role with near perfection. The one who really steals the show is Isla Fisher (Home And Away, Now You See Me) as Karen. Among the few positives in the film, Fisher stands at the top, stamping her authority as a queen of comedy.
Jon Hamm (Mad Men, The Town) is classic badass with a soft side – a reason other than his looks for the female fans to drool over. He displayed surprisingly good comic timing. Speaking of surprising, Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious, Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice) puts in a solid shift as an action hero minus the uncanny comic timing.
Patton Oswalt (King Of Queens, Magnolia) deserves a special mention for his cameo as The Scorpion.
All in All
Keeping Up With The Joneses is proof that the cast are only as good as the characters they are given. For the most part, it ends up being nothing more than a poor man’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Fortunately, the cast managed to give some life to their characters, but the shortcomings of the script were too hard to overcome.
Watch it if: you’re in the mood for a mindless action-comedy OR a fan of the cast members.