Friday, October 28, 2016

Movie Review #510: "Keeping Up With the Joneses" (2016)

Movie"Keeping Up With the Joneses"
Director: Greg Motolla
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 41 minutes
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Jeff and Karen Gaffney (Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher) are an average suburban couple whose life is turned asunder when they discover their new neighbors, the Joneses (Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot) are actually spies who are investigating crimes at Jeff's place of employment. 

"Keeping Up With the Joneses" is directed by Greg Mottola, who is known for his excellent films "Superbad," "Adventureland," and "Paul." It is written by Michael LeSieur, who is best know for penning the awful movie "You, Me, and Dupree." Knowing this, the question becomes: will this offering be more like the great stuff we've seen from Mottola, or more like the crap we've seen from LeSier? Unfortunately for the Joneses, it is most definitely the latter.

The spy comedy genre has made a bit of a resurgence. Lately, we have seen this type of film pop up again and again, mostly from last year's outrageously hilarious "Spy," the slightly more action-oriented, tongue-in-cheek "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," and even earlier this year with the charming "Central Intelligence," all of which are funnier than "Keeping Up With the Joneses." This story revolves around an average suburban couple named Jeff and Karen Gaffney, played by Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher. When their new neighbors, Tim and Natalie Jones, played by Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot, move in right across the street, the two couples begin to strike up a friendship, though something doesn't seem quite right about the far-too-perfect Joneses. As the Gaffney's (mostly Karen) get a bit nosy, they quickly discover the Joneses aren't who they say they are and are actually government spies on a mission to stop some microchips from getting into the wrong hands.

This film runs through the typical fish-out-of-water scenario we're so used to seeing in this genre. In the beginning, it's super spies Tim and Natalie trying to live the suburban lifestyle, regularly showing up their neighbors with their fancy fashion, their exotic stories of traveling abroad, and their dart throwing prowess. Then, halfway through the movie, the script flips and puts Jeff and Karen in the spy setting as they clumsily fumble and bumble their around computer files, and run and scream their way through several dangerous situations like car chases and death-defying jumps out of buildings. Jeff also attempts to use his ability to "read people" and his skills as an HR consultant to coax information out of a captive. We're bummed to say the laughs are few and far between because most of the even remotely comedic moments are on full display in the trailer for this film. Of course, "Keeping Up With the Joneses" is not completely devoid of humor and we did chuckle on occasion, but more often than not, everything found here is something we've seen better executed elsewhere.

At the end of the day, "Keeping Up With the Joneses" is simply a miss for us. Everything about it feels safe and cheap somehow, less than what we were hoping. There action scenes aren't put together very well and seem to fall short in excitement and humor for something billed as an action comedy. No one performance stands out because they all feel like paycheck/contractually obligated performances for everyone involved. We don't remember a whole lot about the characters because they aren't all that memorable. This movie is the first real big miss for director Greg Mottola and this marks back-to-back failures for Galifianakis as a leading man. Maybe he should stay in the background as long as he can.

My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 4/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 19%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

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