Keeping up with the Joneses is an action comedy/spy thriller that is wildly entertaining yet still has a bit of a dark side - meaning people die and somehow you can't help but laugh as it happens. It's four main characters are played by Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher, Gal Gadot and Jon Hamm and is set in a quaint suburban cul de sac somewhere in Atlanta, GA.
Galifianakis plays Jeff Gaffney, a straight-laced human resources administrator for a tech company. He and his wife Karen have just sent the kids off to summer camp and have no clue what to do in an empty house. All that changes when out of nowhere the house across the street is sold to buyers who have not so much as seen the house in person. Karen is intrigued by this and starts playing the role of nosey neighbor until one day she detects movement in front of the house. As she peers through the window, she sees a sexy and slender woman lock lips with a dashing man.
Without hesitation Karen breaks the ice with her new neighbors Tim and Natalie Jones, who at first seem normal despite telling amazing stories from their pasts. Initially the Gaffneys accept everything at face value until Karen notices some odd behaviors with her neighbors. Armed with motivation Karen sets out to discover the truth about her neighbors while trying to convince her aloof husband that something is peculiar with the newest members of their HOA.
As with every goofy movie neighbor who secretly prowls around someone's property searching for clues, someone always messes up and does something to alert the property owners of what's happening. This movie is no different except that the events unfold rather quickly and the tone of the movie takes a slightly darker turn, but still keeps a firm grip on the handlebars of comedy.
Once the secret is out about the Joneses all Hell breaks loose. Anything more to summarize the events moving forward would warrant a spoiler alert for this review.
Although Isla Fisher plays a significant role in the movie the two stars to watch were Gadot and Galifianakis. Mostly because I believe they had to do the most stretching to cross over into genres both are not really known for with Galifianakis having to do the least of the stretching.
Gadot does an excellent job maintaining her signature mysterious persona and is very convincing with the comedic elements of the movie. She successfully avoids selling out to the comedy and probably won't regret this role 4 years from now as she stays true to what makes her so appealing on camera.
Galifianakis was also a pleasant surprise in this action comedy. The Hangover star wasted no time breaking the mold of Hollywood type-casting by establishing Jeff as a fresh new character. He also shed a ton of weight and his signature beard and was almost unrecognizable in the opening scenes if not for his same goofy walk and voice. He also avoids the common comedic/action star character development and does not suddenly transform into a brave and calculated killing machine. He does manage to contribute to some carnage, but only out of fear and circumstance.
Keeping Up with the Joneses is a great movie even though the plot feels like something we've all seen already. The action sequences are well-paced and don't make you say "yeah right."
My final thoughts:
- Gal Gadot should definitely be Lara Croft in the next Tomb Raider movie since Angelina is too busy divorcing Brad and building a family football team. I'll even lock in my vote for her to be motion captured for the video game. She's perfect for the role!
- Zach should definitely be praised for his weight loss and repping for North Carolina. (He was born in Wilkesboro, attended NC State and is a member of a black fraternity - Kappa Alpha Psi)
- A sequel should definitely be considered for this movie.
- I slept on Gal Gadot. Now, I'm not saying I would throw it all away for her, but she makes skinny look really good. Just saying.
Disclaimer: Steve is an employee of Turner Broadcasting, a division of Time Warner, however the views expressed in this post are of my own. Jay just does what he wants.