Friday, 28 October 2016

Keeping Up With The Joneses

There's this weird genre that has popped up lately where spies or assassins move to the suburbs and inevitably get caught up in hijinks. Examples are generally along the line of Killers or Mr and Mrs Smith. Invariably the result is never a good one because they always seem to be missed opportunities. While there are some decent moments and some great actors in Keeping Up With The Joneses, it also happens to miss the mark.

Jeff (Zach Galifianakis) and Karen Gaffney (Isla Fisher) are just a regular couple living in the suburbs of Atlanta. Jeff works as the HR person at an aerospace company and Karen works as an interior designer. They are happy together in their small community and get excited when they see that some new neighbours are moving in. These new neighbours turn out to be the complete opposite to them. Tim Jones (Jon Hamm) is a travel writer whose hobby is glass blowing. His wife Natalie (Gal Gadot) runs a food blog and donates to charity. While they seem like the perfect neighbours to have, Karen does some digging and finds that they are actually spies looking into the company that Jeff works for.

As fun as the concept of highly trained professionals moving into suburbia is, it never pans out the way you want. This is especially true when it comes to comedies that use the premise. There aren't enough jokes to fill out the entire thing and you want to put minimal action in there because it would become an action movie otherwise. Also the way that this movie treats Gal Gadot is really bizarre. I'm not one to jump up and down about the treatment of women in movies, but what they've done here is made a character that is contrary to the concept. Natalie is supposed to be this physically strong spy, but she ends up being a character that is just there to be considered attractive. It also falls into the same traps as makeover movies from the 80s and 90s. They take Isla Fisher's character and make wear unattractive clothes, but 'fix' her by putting her in some lingerie or a tight dress.

The movie's casting is a strong choice that helps with the lack of written jokes. Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher are good comedic staples with which to build on. Galifianakis is always funniest when playing a guy from the south as he has mastered the accent pretty well. I was a bit unsure of what was going on with Fisher's accent. I thought she was going for a similar that Rose Byrne has been doing lately where she plays Australian characters, but she seemed to bounce between the two. Jon Hamm has shown now that he is pretty good at playing a goofy character. While he is supposed to be serious, there were moments that you could tell he was having fun. Comedian Bobby Lee also turns up in a stereotypical Asian role as the proprietor of a Chinese snake restaurant that's pretty funny. Patton Oswalt appears at the end as the bad guy, but has very little time and doesn't have a chance to get a good footing.

Keeping Up With the Joneses is not the best comedy to come out this year. It's not bad as such, but there is a lot of down time between jokes. These instances are glaringly obvious and just make for some hollow viewing.

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