Apparently there's been talk that Keeping Up with the Joneses is in the vein of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, where domestic homebodies turn out to be government black ops mercenaries. But for me, it's a little closer to the more recent Date Night, where a suburban couple are thrown into a chaotic night in the city. Heck, there's even a comment thread between that movie and this, which I'll get to in a second.
Written by Michael LeSieur (You, Me and Dupree) and directed by Greg Mottola (Paul), the film finds us meeting Jeff Gaffney (Zach Galifianakis, Due Date) and his wife Karen (Isla Fisher, Wedding Crashers). Jeff works as a Human Resources Manager at an international company and Karen designs urinals for men's rooms. One day, their cul-de-sac is graced by new neighbors. Tim Jones (Jon Hamm, Mad Men) is a travel writer and his wife Natalie (former Date Night cast member Gal Gadot!) is a chef who does charity work. They look perfect on the outside but Karen is suspicious of their past, and when she finds out more about them, she'll wish she didn't.
So the lure here is getting a quartet of actors together to do some of the things that people enjoyed in the past and have two conflicting genres where each dip their toes into. Hamm's done a bunch of comedic stuff before so rather than being stilted action/drama guy doing comedy, he sort of gets to be…Jon Hamm. And this works for it because to try and do something with the character when he inevitably defers to Galifianakis anyway is a smart decision by Hamm, Mottola et al. However, Galifianakis' approach to Jeff is a little hit or miss. There are moments where he subtly skewers the suburban life, but he seems to be doing part of a character. He works well with Fisher, who is fine in the role, as is Gadot.
But the film has a lot of people in it who are funny who doesn't get used much, or well in general. Matt Walsh and Kevin Dunn are the Veep caucus for the film and their scenes are scant and have a chuckle, maybe two. There is another actor in the film who is normally comedic, and you show your teeth at a moment or two of his lines, but he also seems to be there for some sort of comic gravitas that isn't utilized. It's very strange.
If there was a way to sum up Keeping Up with the Joneses, it's that the film is comfortable with the premise and the story's execution. But the story makes some questionable decisions in it that could be remedied with interest by the ensemble, but that interest doesn't emerge. Thus, the film, while having a laugh or two scattered through its 105 minutes, is just a run of the mill production.The Blu-ray:
The AVC encode for this high-definition 2.40:1 widescreen presentation of Keeping Up with the Joneses is good but, well, it's hard to explain. Image detail is abundant in close shots and some wider ones like when Karen and Natalie are in lingerie, fabric is discernible, as it occasionally is in some of Hamm's outfits. Color reproduction is accurate and lacks saturation problems or complaints. If there was something it's that detail isn't consistent through the film. Exteriors lack a sharpness to them (the neighborhood and brewery supply store being a couple of shots) as do many closer shots. It could have been better, but still fine as is.The Sound:
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track befitting the film is a jaw dropper from the opening moments when a house blows up in the opening credits. It (and other subsequent explosions like it) have a solid amount of low-end fidelity with the engaged subwoofer, and gunfire comes from all directions as the soundtrack has a consistent level of immersion to it. Dialogue is also consistent and clear and requires little user compensation. Overall it does excellent justice to the film.The Extras:
Well, "Spy Game" (11:44) is your making of on the film, which includes thoughts by the cast on one another and on the story. It also shows the bangs and booms and how fun that was. Five deleted scenes (18:17) including a little heavier of an opening to the film, and some more acting chops on Galifianakis' part, but nothing memorable. "Keeping Up With Georgia" (5:04) is where the cast share their thoughts on the Peachtree State and some of the locations in it, and what makes it advantageous to shoot there. A stills gallery and trailer (2:26) complete things along with a standard definition disc and digital copy of the film.Final Thoughts:
Keeping Up with the Joneses is a remarkably paint by numbers story and production, despite an occasional guffaw (Cobra liquor!). Galifianakis and Hamm are nondescript for most of the film and the lack of noticeable effort from them or most anyone else in the film shows. It's not a bad movie, just a disappointing one, despite a fantastic lossless track. For folks unfamiliar with either or both actors by this point, it's worth a rental but not much else.