Thursday, 20 October 2016

Keeping Up With the Joneses: Film Review

Keeping Up With the Joneses: Film Review

Cast: Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher, Jon Hamm, Gal Gadot
Director: Greg Mottola

Channeling suburban paranoia and envy to a tee, Keeping Up With The Joneses pushes for broad comedy and somehow manages to come up short.

A thinned down Galifianakis and Fisher are the Gaffneys, a suburban couple whose life has hit a rut. Packing their two kids off to camp for the summer, the pair realise their lives are empty; Jeff has his HR job at a defence company where everyone rides roughshod over him as he's the only one with internet access, and Karen is a frustrated stay at home mum whose summer job is sizing up urinals for their bathroom makeover.

When new neighbours move in in the form of Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot's superglamourous couple The Joneses, she channels her Rear Window tendencies into trying to find fault, believing that under this perfect veneer, Tim and Natalie are hiding something.

It's not long before this paranoia comes to fruition , but Jeff refuses to listen believing he's finally found a friend who wants to share the thrill of going indoor skydiving. However, it soon becomes clear that the Joneses are not what they seem and the Gaffneys are caught up in the whirlwind of international espionage...

Keeping Up With the Joneses purports to riff on the fear that the grass is always greener and the new neighbours lead more exciting lives than you do. And to a degree, the justified paranoia works well for the start of Mottola's film, but it soon becomes clear this is all there is going for it.

Weakly written material soon gives way to chase sequences and a large helping of slapstick as well as shots of Gal Gadot flaunting her perfect physique in lingerie, while delivering wooden dialogue. While the way the suburban awkwardness subsides into genuine suspicions is as broad as it comes, it soon becomes obvious that the comedy chops of Hamm and Galifianakis are being wasted in this under-written flaccid romp that lacks any brains.

As Galifianakis ramps up his panic-based schtick, and Hamm plays up the fact his spy is unhappy with his lot, Fisher goes overboard with her brand of paranoid hysteria writ large. It's a mess that isn't strong enough for farce and is too weak to endure its 100 minutes running time. While the elements of spy comedy are rightly channeled by a soundtrack that feels big band and brassy enough to get the vibe right, little else lands.

You may feel a desire to go Keeping up with the Joneses, but the simple truth is, it's really not worth the effort.

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