KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES
Jeff Gaffney (Zach Galifianakis) and his wife Karen (Isla Fisher) live in a quiet cul de sac in the suburbs where nothing ever happens. Until one day, Tim Jones (Jon Hamm) and his glamour wife Natalie (Gal Gadot) move in next door. As they discover their new neighbours are undercover spies, life suddenly changes, as Jeff and Karen become involved in an international espionage plot.
Review by Louise Keller:
Short of laughs with little to recommend it beyond its likeable cast, this contrived and predictable action comedy begs for a sharper, wittier script and a lot more chutzpah. It's a bit like Mr & Mrs Smith meets Spy in the suburbs, but You, Me and Dupree screenwriter Michael LeSieur fails to develop the ideas and the film quickly runs out of steam.
Everything hangs on the casting and the physicality of the Hobbit-like suburban couple (played by Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher) beside the Amazonian sophisticated undercover spies (Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot) is perhaps the funniest offering. Galifianakis plays Jeff, the sensitive and rather dull HR consultant, who offers his aerospace and defense colleagues red stress balls to help them cope with the high stress, top-secret environment and indulges in his hobby of indoor skydiving. Fisher, with her titan Rapunzel locks is appealing as Karen, who designs bathrooms and takes a keen interest in their ultra glamorous new neighbours, who liven up the previously quiet cul-de-sac. As for Hamm (suave as Tim) and Gadot (fascinating as Natalie, the designer spy a la Wonder Woman), they tower seven inches above their diminutive neighbours, fulfilling the promise as the spies about which we might fantasize, who dress and shoot to kill. Gadot is the best thing in the film.
The scene in which Tim takes Jeff to the secret Cobra Club for lunch where vipers are part of the menu is novel enough, as is the lingerie scene in which the scantily clad Natalie persuades Karen to invest in sexy underwear to shake up her marriage. But these scenes play out like visual skits without enough substance - or more importantly, laughs - to make the film fly. The same goes for the sequence when Jeff and Karen break into the Joneses' house; the sight of Fisher being dragged on the floor by Galifianakis is amusing, but director Greg Mottola fails to make the comedy spark.
Comedy makes way for action, with car chases, explosions and altercations when bullets fly, glass shatters and knives find their marks. As for the climactic scenes, they feel mechanical and as the film ends, so do our hopes for a sparkling, comedic time.
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KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES (M)
CAST: Gal Gadot, Isla Fisher, Jon Hamm, Zach Galifianakis, Patton Oswalt, Matt Walsh, Kevin Dunn, Maribeth Monroe
PRODUCER: Michael LeSieur, Laurie MacDonald, Walter F. Parkes
DIRECTOR: Greg Mottola
SCRIPT: Michael LeSieur
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Andrew Dunn
EDITOR: David Rennie
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mark Ricker
RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 20, 2016