Keeping Up with the Joneses (2016) review
When Incompetence and Idiocy Reign Supreme
Interior designer Karen Gaffney (Isla Fisher) and her husband Jeff (Zach Galifianakis), who works in human resources, live the typical suburban life in a cul-de-sac where every day falls into the same cookie-cutter category and the people who live there are completely content with that. The Gaffney’s routine gets thrown out the window when their new neighbors Natalie (Gal Gadot) and Tim Jones (Jon Hamm) move in across the street. The Joneses can hardly keep their hands off each other in public and seem to lead lives that are far more fascinating than the average individual. As Karen continues to obsessively snoop on the new neighbors, the Gaffneys eventually discover that the Joneses are actually spies and their ho-hum life finally gets the energetic boost it’s needed since their two kids were born.
The motorcycle chase and the appearance of Patton Oswalt are the only two factors Keeping Up with the Joneses can boast about. The motorcycle chase is about the closest any sequence in the film will come to being both amusing and entertaining. There’s a ton of action with plenty of explosions and gun play while the entire main cast is in the car with the more action-based couple playing off the more comedy-based one. The issue though is that while it’s essentially the film’s highlight it still fails to initiate any sort of laughter or properly get your blood pumping like a well-executed action film. Meanwhile the addition of Patton Oswalt keeps the film from being a total waste of time. Oswalt’s rambling about holding a longstanding grudge over a car space is incredible.
This so-called comedy basically grates on every last one of your nerves during the measly hour and 41 minutes Keeping Up with the Joneses holds you captive for. The forced perky behavior that everyone is obviously putting on is annoying as soon as it’s introduced. While most men will jump at the chance at seeing Gal Gadot in her underwear for an extended period of time, you probably won’t look at her the same way after you hear her discussing the benefits of kegeling (or it will have the opposite effect and only beef up an already unhealthy infatuation).
How many times have you seen this concept before though? A married couple stumbles into the spy occupation by mistake after creepily spying on their neighbors who are legitimate spies. Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Knight and Day, Date Night, and just about anything starring Angelina Jolie has a similar concept. Keeping Up with the Joneses adds nothing that these films haven’t already stomped all over a dozen times. It’s as if the film purposely goes out of its way to cater to anyone who has been forced to wear a dunce cap in their time and it feels like it's spoon-fed to the moronic in general. Why anyone would rely on individuals who aren’t trained, experienced, or intelligent in the slightest is beyond comprehension.
Keeping Up with the Joneses is like a mentally challenged man who manages to stumble into the broom closet and miraculously emerges on a unicycle while juggling chainsaws. Instead of getting him out of harm’s way, the filmmakers said, “Wait, let’s see where this goes,” and guided him out onto a tightrope, allowed him to jump through a ring of fire, encouraged him to ride through a rabid alligator pit, and continue to almost kill himself for nearly two hours. This “comedy” is a humorless clown getting caught with his pants down waddling around with said pants around his ankles for entirely too long in an attempt to make something stick out of sheer luck.
This film is regurgitated excrement that has been digested, spewed, and defecated so many times that it’s beyond recognition. You expect more from the man who directed Keeping Up with the Joneses, Greg Mottola (Paul, Adventureland), but maybe it’s to be expected from the film’s screenwriter Michael LeSieur (You, Me and Dupree). The cast is talented and the concept could be pushed to areas it hasn’t reached before, but instead Keeping Up with the Joneses chooses the painfully unamusing, preposterously ludicrous, and tragically annoying route and it’s a more devastating and torturous experience because of it.