By Troi Watts
Comedies today tend to have one big flaw: all of the funny bits are in the trailer, leaving viewers unamused at the theater. This was my expectation after seeing the first trailer for Keeping Up with the Joneses. The trailer had me rolling, leaving me super excited to see this goofy movie! As I bought my tickets and popcorn, I had hope that the movie would leave me breathless from laughing, even to the point where soda came out of my nose. After seeing the film, I can say that I breathed perfectly throughout the movie and luckily, I could drink soda during certain scenes.
Keeping Up with the Joneses introduces us to Karen and Jeff Gaffney (portrayed by Isla Fisher and Zach Galifianakis), a suburban couple who have just shipped their two kids off to summer camp. Deciding not to partake in the usual activities that adults like to do when they’re alone, Karen and Jeff go about their normal, boring lives: Jeff is a human resources guy and Karen is a designer currently working on a bathroom. Needless to say, the arrival of two brand new neighbors have them and the whole neighborhood buzzing. Tom and Natalie Jones (played by Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot) seem to have it all: love, beauty, career success. That begs the question: are they too good to be true? Karen asks this question, does a lot of snooping, and realizes that the Joneses are spies. This revelation sends the two couples on a wild adventure, complete with snakes, car chases, explosions, and lots of shooting. What is the Joneses’ mission? Will they accomplish it? Will the Gaffney’s survive? Guess you’ll just have to watch and find out.
Let’s start with the bad: Keeping Up with the Joneses did set expectations high when it came to comical content. The trailer gave back-to-back laughs, leading me to want consistently-timed jokes throughout the movie. Unfortunately, the funny bits were very toned down and scattered. There wasn’t as much enthusiasm as was expected when the jokes were presented and even after something funny happened, it would be another twenty minutes before you got another mishap or pun. I think my point can be summed up with this: I heard the guy sitting behind me in the theater snoring about halfway through the film. Thankfully, he did wake up for the end half, which was actually exciting and fun!
But wait! There is good news: those comical parts I mentioned earlier were hilarious! Zach Galifianakis is known for his comedic roles and he does not disappoint. My favorite scene involves a drunk Jeff (his character) and a very poisonous snake… need I say more? The jokes are very relatable. There are jokes I could see myself and my friends making, which made them even better. Physical mishaps, puns, and funny incidents involving topics best discussed privately show that this movie has it all when it hits its mark.
For more good news, the acting earns an A+. It’s no secret that Isla Fisher, Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm, and Gal Gadot are skilled actors, but it’s always nice to see them prove why they have earned that reputation. The two standouts are Isla Fisher and Gal Gadot. Fisher does a spot-on job of being a suspicious suburban mom (her recent pregnancy may have helped with that) while Gadot has no trouble at all being a sexy, suave spy. Her character’s difficulty of blending in with the toned-down moms is so convincing that even I felt her frustration. Overall, all of the actors make the movie feel genuine and very believable, adding to the movie’s appeal. It also doesn’t hurt that all of the actors (yes, even Zach Galifianakis) are great eye-candy.
Overall, I recommend seeing Keeping Up with the Joneses, especially if you need a movie for date night! A spy movie that you could see actually happening in real life doesn’t come around too often, and it’s not always as well-done as Keeping Up with the Joneses, so go see it! But fair warning: if realistic, slightly toned-down humor isn’t your thing, you might want to wait to rent it instead of paying movie theater prices. If it is your thing, give it a watch in theaters!