Keeping Up With The Joneses [Review by Haus]
Keeping Up With The Joneses is a middling, bothersome, unfunny and largely pointless little movie that exists for no clear reason and will aggressively squander any attention you afford it. There’s a hard place in hell for this kind of obnoxious, ego-soothing suburban pseudo-escapism, with its fall-flat punchlines and periodic awkward racial humor. Avoid it.
It could almost be promising — Zach Galifianakis! Isla Fisher! John Hamm! Wonder Woman! And directed by the guy who did Superbad! — until you remember that the only legitimately funny movie Galifianakis ever did was the first Hangover, director Greg Mottola also helmed Clear History, and this movie was written by a guy whose main claim to fame is penning You, Me and Dupree. So yeah, it’ll probs be bad.
The most surprising thing about this movie was how full it was. I mean, I know why I was there — I’ve promised I’ll review more lousy stuff — but I don’t understand why, on a perfectly good Saturday night and more than a week after its release, my local cineplex managed to pack in a nearly full house of people willing to overpay in both money and time to watch this. Did the trailer look good? (No.) Are other, better things playing? (Yes.) Are people really selecting this drivel over these other options? (Indeed.) Between this and the election, my faith in the general citizenry has now come scraping to rest at its filthy, gritty nadir.
Anyway, the movie. If you’ve seen the trailer you’ve seen the film, along with pretty much every one of its best jokes. (Much would have been forgiven if this movie was at least funny, but it’s just not. Aforementioned full house sat stone silent through almost every punchline.)
Story wise, Galifianakis plays a ho-hum gee-whiz suburban HR nice-guy, and with the kids off at camp, he and his vanilla wife (Isla Fisher) live a pretty vanilla life. Oh, ho ho! How funny our foibles! Shoulder-punch, honey, that’s just like us! We never make time for sex either! Ha, ha. Yawn.
New neighbors arrive (Hamm and Gadot), and they’re beautiful and accomplished and mysterious. This of course makes Galifianakis and Fisher feel self-conscious and boring — as it pretty much should, if we’re being honest — and we’re then led by the choke-collar through a superfluous and silly “spy” plot that — you guessed it — ends with our suburban protagonists being explicitly told that the authenticity and honesty in their plain lives is really quite preferable to world travel and fancy cars and guns and action. Pardon me while I gag on my Icee.
I gag because this message is wrong. It’s the grown-up version of the esteem movement, the same one that’s bred a generation of self-important narcissistic me-first entitlement monsters who feel deeply special for accomplishing pretty much nothing at all. Here’s a novel thought: Not every second grader is special just for showing up, and neither are we. Let’s not be coddled and congratulated for being meek and uninteresting and boring, for blending into the herd, for consuming the planet’s resources while mainlining pumpkin lattes and buying King sheet sets at Bed, Bath and Beyond. These are acceptable things, perhaps even necessary, but not praiseworthy. We’ve been given much — so why is much not expected? Aim higher, for God’s sake. Demand to be held to a higher standard, and start by rejecting the ego-swaddling pandering of screenwriters who think you can’t handle a little reality. You can.
Keeping Up With The Joneses isn’t funny, isn’t interesting, isn’t clever, and has basically nothing to recommend it. It even screwed up its cars, dubbing an otherwise-nice Mercedes AMG SLS to sound electric. Why?? I just cannot even right now.
You’re better than this. See something else.
Haus Verdict: Unfunny, uninteresting, uninspired, unnecessary.
Keeping Up With The Joneses opened Friday October 21 — not that it matters.
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