Cinema listings with film information and movie reviews
Keeping Up with the Joneses
As a colloquialism, keeping up with the Joneses perfectly encapsulates the basic human desire to be part of the in-crowd, to polish away the rough edges of individuality for the sake of social acceptance. Greg Mottola's action comedy Keeping Up With The Joneses doesn't have to break sweat to achieve this depressing, bland conformity. Wit, humanity, romance and plausibility are repeatedly sacrificed in the film's lumbering pursuit of feeble laughs, squandering a gifted cast on a lacklustre script that begs, borrows and steals from superior crime capers including Mr & Mrs Smith, The Heat and Spy. Prize clowns Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher are reduced to outdated slapstick, such as running at speed into a triple pane window or suddenly becoming loose limbed after a tranquiliser dart goes astray. Their screen chemistry is inert. Indeed, Fisher generates more sparks with statuesque co-star Gal Gadot - the newly anointed big screen Wonder Woman - and screenwriter Michael LeSieur indulges a crass fantasy of faux lesbian flirtation between the two actresses in a department store changing room. Fisher and Gadot far deserve better. So do we. Jeff Gaffney (Galifianakis) works in human resources at a company, which produces microchips and components for aerospace and military contracts. His wife Karen (Fisher) is an interior designer and they enjoy a simple life in a leafy cul-de-sac, where they exchange pleasantries with other residents including Jeff's work colleague Dan (Matt Walsh) and his wife, Meg (Maribeth Monroe). Out of the blue, travel writer Tim Jones (Jon Hamm) and food blogger wife Natalie (Gal Gadot) move in across the street, paying cash for their home without viewing the property. "Who would buy a house without seeing it first?" wonders Karen, who becomes convinced that the seemingly perfect Joneses are hiding something. The Gaffneys clumsily infiltrate their neighbour's home and discover that Tim and Natalie are government spies with gadgets galore and a licence to kill. Unwittingly, Jeff and Karen become embroiled in global espionage, testing the strength of their humdrum marriage as they pursue a criminal mastermind known as the Scorpion (Patton Oswalt). Keeping Up With The Joneses wheezes and puffs through various set pieces, including a bullet-riddled car chase and a frenetic shoot-out, without any obvious punchlines or pay-offs. Hamm oozes the seductive charm of his character in Mad Men and glides through the various lulls largely unscathed, teasing out the frustrations of an operative who wants to hang up his explosives and settle down. Director Mottola, who previously helmed Superbad and Adventureland, falls painfully short of those former glories in every regard. If James Bond was right and you only live twice, that's still too short to sit through Mottola's film.