Keeping Up with the Joneses (2016)

5:41 AM

License to Kill. License to Chill.
 Keeping Up with the Joneses is directed by Greg Mottola (Superbad, Paul) and stars Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover, Due Date), Isla Fisher (Now You See Me, Grimsby), Jon Hamm (Mad Men, The Town) and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman, Fast & Furious). "A suburban couple becomes embroiled in an international espionage plot when they discover that their seemingly perfect new neighbors are government spies". Will Keeping Up with the Joneses be able to compete in a genre that has raised the bar in recent years or is this nothing but a disposable and forgettable spy flick?

I didn't get to catch Keeping Up with the Joneses when it had its theatrical release in October and I probably would have never have thought about watching the film again if the DVD wasn't discounted when I went to a nearby supermarket the other day. To set the scene, I'd just watched Wonder Woman for the second time (and loved it) and wanted to see more of Gadot's work - other than the Fast & Furious films - so Keeping Up with the Joneses was next on my list. Unfortunately, this film was exactly what I expected it to be like - forgettable, occasionally fun, silly, frustrating and disposable. I'm thankful I didn't pay full price for the DVD as now I've seen it once, it will just be gathering dust in my ever-growing collection. 

At this moment in time, Gal Gadot is arguably this films biggest star power - she's coming hot off of Batman v Superman and Wonder Woman, playing a role she has received lots of acclaim for. Unfortunately, my suspicions about Gadot were confirmed and that is that she does not have much range or diversity as an actress. Gadot is occasionally charismatic but often very wooden in this film. She has some really cringe-worthy moments. It's not really that surprising when glancing at Gadot's iMDB page and finding out she has no other roles in the works other than reprising Wonder Woman. All eyes were on Gadot which benefited all of the other actors involved in this film - none of them appeared to make a fool of themselves, they did a solid job in a film that will likely be forgotten very soon so they don't need to worry about those one-off misstep moments. I was most surprised by Zach Galifianakis who plays a completely different role to what I have seen him do previously - Galifianakis plays a pretty normal person and I'm undecided to whether this was a missed opportunity or not. Many find Galifianakis grating but his most memorable work has been when he plays the crazy and comedic character (e.g. The Hangover films). Keeping Up with the Joneses may just be Galifianakis' most forgettable performance yet - but that's not his fault. Jon Hamm also does a sound job. I actually think the scene-stealer and star of the show is Isla Fisher. I still don't understand why she made this film and Grimsby instead of Now You See Me 2 but she certainly showed off her comedic ability here. Fisher had the funniest moments. 

Keeping Up with the Joneses has an interesting and exciting premises but once again, this is the classic case of failing to execute a promising idea. I found the first hour of this film extremely frustrating - the Joneses are portrayed as villains which makes them rather unlikeable and the Gaffney's are suspicious of them. It's irritating because the Gaffney's are basically on to the Joneses for a large part of the first hour yet they are easily misled and distracted. As the audience, we aren't stupid so there was no mystery - I didn't believe for a second that the Joneses were a normal couple and from the marketing/poster, it can easily be deduced that they are spies. It takes the Gaffney's over half of the film to figure this out which means a large portion of the film is spent without a clear narrative and I really started to lose interest. However, the film suddenly picks up as soon as it passes the hour mark and becomes a bit more exciting - there is a fun car chase and the plot is established. However, 20 minutes later, the film reaches its climax which is underwhelming and pretty low budget (the climax is spent in a hotel room with maybe 5 minutes of action). 

Keeping Up with the Joneses should have gone straight to digital or had a TV release because I can't imagine paying to see this on the big screen. A spy-comedy that recently got it right was Spy directed by Paul Feig. Spy was slick, sophisticated and hilarious. Keeping Up with the Joneses is slow, sloppily made and has a handful of laughs. I can't say that I didn't find moments in Keeping Up with the Joneses funny because I would be lying but all of those laughs were usually just giggles and chuckles, there were no huge laugh-out-loud moments. There also really wasn't that much action other than the car chase. However, it's a harmless film that I would watch again (if no other options) - it's light and forgettable. 

Keeping Up with the Joneses is the TV version of Spy - it's basically the polar opposite of Feig's intelligent and funny spy flick. However, KUWTJ is still occasionally funny and harmless. Fisher, Hamm and Galifianakis all pull their weight but unfortunately the same can't be said for Gal Gadot who is simply Gal Gadot in this film. This spy film is light on the action and the comedy and the narrative takes it's time to get started but once it does, the film briefly becomes quite enjoyable before an anticlimactic ending. Forgettable, disposable, bland and needless - it's not awful but this film is by no means mandatory viewing. 


What did you think of KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES? What's your favourite spy film? - COMMENT BELOW

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  1. I watched this on a plane to pass the time. It's pretty washed out.