Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher, Jon Hamm
Director: Greg Mottola
Running Time: 105 mins
Keeping Up With The Joneses is an American film about a suburban husband and wife who, after discovering that their seemingly perfect new neighbours are international spies, accidentally become caught up in a major espionage conspiracy.
What I’m looking for in a good action comedy is very simple. Laughs, entertaining explosions and an engaging crime story. Unfortunately, Keeping Up With The Joneses has almost none of these. Save for the lead performances, there’s very little to keep you interested in this movie, taking a formulaic story and providing very little fun or excitement at any point.
In general, I was very disappointed by this film, but there is one part of it that isn’t so bad: the performances. The A-list cast of Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher, Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot are their normal selves, and that allows for at least a little bit of quality to shine through.
Whilst they have next to nothing to work with, Galifianakis shows off his typically enjoyable slapstick, Fisher is as likable as ever, Hamm is suave and cool when it comes to being a super-spy, and Gadot is as good in the action sequences as she is as Wonder Woman. Whilst the foursome don’t always have the best chemistry, their individual turns are enough to give you a little bit of joy in this film.
Unfortunately, there’s very little else to praise about Keeping Up With The Joneses. Of all the issues, I suppose the biggest has to be its sense of humour. Action comedies aren’t the easiest to get right, particularly as they are more reliant on physical humour than witty dialogue, but that hasn’t stopped some classics like Beverly Hills Cop, Hot Fuzz and Spy in the past.
However, this film is almost entirely reliant on the dumbest and most predictable sort of comedy. Its slapstick is repetitive to a tedious extent, the dialogue is bland and frail throughout, and it even reveals a complete lack of confidence in itself by numerous desperate attempts to get laughs and attention through numerous scenes designed for the newly-popular YouTube thumbnail phenomenon.
In that, there’s definitely no reason to expect lots of laughs from this film, and what’s worse is that the action isn’t any better. A bit (or even a lot) of mindless action is fine by me in an action comedy, but what makes the action sequences so poor here is how they’re directed. The big budget explosions may look cool, but each pursuit and fight feels so formulaic, plodding along at a dull pace and going through the motions of any Hollywood action movie, providing no unpredictability, tension or excitement when necessary.
And finally, there’s the story. Again, I don’t expect a gripping thriller from this sort of movie, but something a little unpredictable and different wouldn’t have done any harm. Unfortunately, it’s yet another lazy and formulaic thing about the movie, going through every single beat of a big-budget action comedy that you’ve seen a million times before, stupidly keeping the film’s more comedic elements largely separate from the action and crime, and creating an ultimately tedious and uninteresting watch.
Overall, Keeping Up With The Joneses is as poor as its YouTube thumbnails suggest. Despite an A-list cast trying to make the best of a bad situation, it fails to provide any laughs, excitement or even anything slightly different from the generic Hollywood formula, and that’s why I’m giving it a 5.7.