Keeping Up with the Joneses

Synopsis: The Gaffneys’ (Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher) lives are interrupted by the arrival of new neighbors, whose stunning looks are matched only by the worldly sophistication of their lives. Tim Jones (Jon Hamm) is an accomplished travel writer whose hobbies include blowing glass, and his wife, Natalie (Gal Gadot), is a social media consultant, cooking blogger and heroine to Sri Lankan orphans. The Gaffneys soon find themselves in the center of a storm of international espionage that gives them a breathtaking glimpse of life outside their cul-de-sac.

Review:

The Good: 

The cast of this movie is fantastic. Galifianakis and Fisher work really well together, with a kind of effortless chemistry that you want out of a comedic married pair. Hamm and Gadot are the real surprise, as they are not only gorgeous together on screen, but have great back-and-forth, and end up filling roles that could not be guessed from first look. Kevin Dunn, Matt Walsh, and Patton Oswalt also have strong showings, each doing what they do best. Also, it is pretty fun! Some good laughs. Unfortunately, that is about it.

The Bad: 

Yikes is there a lot of bad. The writing falls flat quite a bit. There are laughs, don’t get me wrong. But they were too rare for this type of comedy. The plot fluctuates far too quickly between these two couples learning to live next to each other, Galifianakis and Hamm having a bromance, and the main espionage plot. None of these ever feel quite fleshed out. The last plot in particular, the espionage one, is convoluted. At times it feels like a criticism of Corporate America and the military industrial complex, and their treatment of employees. Other times it’s just a classic “we’re wrapped up in some shenanigans” plot. But neither was interesting, and was frankly a bore compared to the relationship components.

The pacing is also a bore, it speeds up and slows down very suddenly. There’s a chase scene that lasts far too long to keep attention. It also asks A LOT of the viewer, suspending disbelief wise. And at a certain point, it becomes untenable.

The Ugly:

It was so confusing that this movie is bad. This is from the director of Superbad and Adventureland. Even if you don’t necessarily like those films, they are undeniably very smart comedies. So why does this fall so flat? My best guess is an over reliance on the cast. They thought that if they took the well-worn story of “married couple who’re bored with life get thrown into crazy plot” (think Date Night) and injected it with a brilliant cast, that’s all it would take. But it clearly doesn’t. Even a cast as dynamic and chemists-perfect as this needs the writing behind it. And it just didn’t have it.

Verdict: Don’t bother seeing it in theaters. It’s going to be that movie that you turn on for a half hour on TBS or FX a couple years from now. And the best I can say is, don’t change the channel right away.

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