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Keeping Up with The Joneses (2016)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/17/2017
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/12/2017
You'll often here those in Hollywood say that filmmaking is a collaborate process, which is shorthand for everyone involved in creating a movie has a job to do. (Of course, some jobs are more important than others, but we'll ignore that for the moment.) In a similar sense, all movies are a sum of their various parts. The acting, the cinematography, the story, the music -- all of these things come together to form the film. And, just like those jobs, some elements can be better than others. And in some movies, those better elements not only stand out, but they become the film's raison d'etre. Such is the case with Keeping Up with The Joneses.
Jeff and Karen Gaffney (Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher) are a very standard suburban couple. He works in HR at a tech firm and she's a freelance interior designer. They live on a cul de sac, and as their kids are at summer camp, they don't know what to do with each other. Things change with Tim and Natalie Jones (Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot) move in across the street. Jeff and Karen are immediately taken with this exotic couple, and can't believe it when they become fast friends. However, there's something off about The Joneses, and Jeff begins to suspect that things aren't as they seem. And they aren't, as Jeff's seemingly innocuous job has made him the target of spies.
The basic plot of Keeping Up with The Joneses is very familiar and we've seen this story before. The "Average Joe gets caught up in spy adventure" story has been done over and over in Hollywood from movies like Spies Like Us to The Man With the One Red Shoe. In these films, an ordinary person, who usually leads a dull life, finds themselves suddenly thrown into a world of espionage, where they introduced to violence and heightened sexuality. Keeping Up with The Joneses does very, very little to break that mold. The "wrinkle" here is that we have a couple instead of an individual. Jeff and Karen are the epitome of modern suburban life, living on a cul de sac, planning their schedules around their kids, and having no idea what to do with themselves. So, you've seen this movie before.
The movie then shows even less inspiration by not being all that good. The script by Michael LeSieur may have shown some structure in the planning stages, but it appears that something fell apart in the editing process. Once Jeff gets sucked into The Joneses world, his spy skill is revealed to be that he is a "people person" and that his life working in HR has given him the ability to talk to people. This makes sense, right? It does, except for the fact that the first act goes out of its way to show us that Jeff is inept at his job. If the movie had shown Jeff to be a great mediator, instead of doing the opposite, this plot point would have not only felt kosher, but would have been satisfying as well. The movie also slacks off during one of the big action scenes, in which our heroes are pursued by black-clad thugs on motorcycles, who come out of nowhere. This scene may have been spoofing similar moments from more serious films, but here, it simply feels incredibly random.
Is there any silver-lining in Keeping Up with The Joneses? The answer is yes, and the more specific answer is Zach Galifianakis. If you like Zach's brand of odd humor, then you will find parts of this movie very funny. For the bulk of the film, it feels as if Zach is in a different movie, as he is saying things which often don't fit the conversation, and one has to wonder if any of them were in the script. I found myself laughing out loud at some of these one-liners, while the rest of the movie left me incredibly cold. If only there was a way to pull all of those great lines out of the movie and leave the rest behind. Fans of Galifianakis characters from things like The Campaign and Baskets will certainly find something to like here. If that's not your kind of humor, you may find Keeping Up with The Joneses to be a retread of other, better movies.
Keeping Up with The Joneses deserves an Oscar for best performance by a snake head on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The film features a very bright color palette, and those tones look very good . The image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is notable and the depth works well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The action sequences provide some obvious surround and stereo effects, which exhibit individual sounds at times. The key explosion in the movie delivers strong subwoofer effects.
The Keeping Up with The Joneses Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. "Spy Game" (12 minutes) is sort of a making-of featurette, but it's more of an overview of the movie with comments from the actors and Director Greg Mottola, with some on-set footage. The piece jumps around, looking at the characters and the story. "Keeping Up with Georgia" (5 minutes) focuses on the Atlanta shooting locations and contains comments from those involved in the film concerning the area. The Disc contains five DELETED SCENES which run about 18 minutes. One of these is an original opening, which introduces us to the neighbors who moved away. The rest are simply alternate takes or scenes from the film with extra footage. The extra are rounded out by a still gallery and a THEATRICAL TRAILER.
Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long