Keeping Up With The Joneses
Jeff and Karen Gaffney see themselves as a pretty typical couple living a pretty typical life. Jeff works in the HR department at a local tech company. Karen does some home decorating as a small business. They've got two kids and a nice little home on a quiet little cul-de-sac.
Their relationship is solid. OK, things aren't necessarily exciting in the romance department, but that's typical between married couples, right? Well, Jeff and Karen think so anyway.
Then the Joneses arrive.
This absolutely beautiful couple moves into their neighborhood and instantly shakes everything up. He's handsome and charming and hopscotches all over the world as a travel writer. She's stunning, wears the latest fashions and has her own culinary blog. They're both so loving, sophisticated and stylish. And did I mention they're gorgeous?
To Karen, these two are just too, too, too … whatever they are. Nobody's this perfect. And why would a couple like this move into their neighborhood?
So Karen starts keeping an eye on the Joneses, and she notices some pretty peculiar activities: furtive glances, late-night drives, quickly hidden briefcases. Why, they even grab each other and exchange a passionate kiss when they think no one else is looking. For no reason at all!
Now, Jeff thinks Karen's lost it. But she's pretty sure these Joneses are up to something. They could be spies. They look like spies. Well, spies in spy movies anyway, but still.
Jeff points out that the only real spying he's seen is what Karen's doing. The truth is, he tells her, he and Tim Jones have really hit it off as friends lately. And Tim's a pretty great guy, if you ask Jeff.
But what does Jeff know? He's just an unobservant HR employee who works at a local tech company that makes special government-contract microchips and stuff. Karen is sure Jeff wouldn't notice if "good old Tim" just waltzed right up to Jeff's office and … oh my goodness, stole something!
Keeping Up With the Joneses lightly underscores the fact that honestly and healthy communication are positive traits to possess, both in life and in a marriage. Tim says he hates his spy job and actually wishes in some ways that he could be more like the straightforward and honest Jeff. And the Joneses' experience with the Gaffneys prompts the spy couple to discuss the weak points in their own marriage. The Joneses also ignore their superior's orders and enter into a deadly situation to help the Gaffneys.
Jeff exclaims, "Sweet Mary and Joseph!" upon seeing Karen in a sexy outfit.
When their two boys go off to camp, Karen and Jeff's friends make saucy jokes about all the ways the Gaffneys can now spice up their love life. Karen and Jeff imagine what that would look like—from impromptu make-out-sessions on the kitchen table to naked-under-a-blanket intimacy in front of a roaring fire. In one of those imagined moments, Karen pours hot wax on Jeff's bare chest. Later, Jeff and Karen have sex, off screen, and we hear them briefly through a planted microphone bug.
Karen tracks Natalie to a department store where Natalie confronts her wearing skimpy lingerie. Later we see Karen in a bustier and a tight dress that emphasize her cleavage.
Tim and Natalie embrace and kiss. We also see Natalie in some other revealing outfits. A neighbor calls one of Natalie's bare-back dresses "pornographic." And that woman's husband tries to take a photo of Natalie up under that dress.
Someone goes through Jeff's office computer, and the camera notes a Google search for "penis enlargement." We hear that a particular kind of alcohol will effect a man's sexual prowess. Karen notes that Jeff once had a "man crush" on Bruce Jenner. Natalie discusses the effects of her Kegel exercises. When accidentally given a drug, Karen gets drunkenly amorous with her hubby. Karen kisses Natalie in order to distract their captors and covertly pass something to her.
This is a spy spoof, so there are several obligatory shoot-'em-up scenes. One man gets shot in the forehead by a sniper. Armed bikers chase the Joneses and Gaffneys, riddling their vehicle with bullet holes. Motorcyclists are shot, run into walls and other vehicles, and sent flying in explosions. Another battle involves Tim and Natalie systematically gunning down a dozen or so heavily armed thugs and blowing up an entire floor of a hotel.
A massive explosion destroys a house. Someone's living room goes up in flames. Natalie threatens to torture a man with a blow torch. Jeff is repeatedly slammed around in slapstick falls and tumbles. And after Karen is left semi-senseless by a drugged dart, she's dropped and thumped about, too. Two men punch each other during one of Jeff's HR exercises.
Crude or Profane Language
One f-word and four s-words join a couple of uses each of "d--n," "a--" and "h---." There are six misuses of Jesus' name and another 15 or so of God's name (three of which are combined with "d--n").
Drug and Alcohol Content
Several people drink beer at different gatherings. And at a neighborhood "Junetoberfest" block party, local residents imbibe various beers and mixed drinks. Tim and Jeff go to a secretive club, and Jeff gets quite inebriated a bottle of liquor with a cobra in it. He's also bitten by a highly venomous snake and is then injected with a potent anti-venom. Jeff and Karen puff on a hookah. As mentioned, Karen's hit by a tranquilizer dart.
Other Negative Elements
A man lets his dogs leave two large deposits on a neighbor's lawn. Jeff makes some racially insensitive remarks. Someone steals a passcode and breaks into an office. Jeff and Karen break into a neighbor's house.
Like most people, I enjoy a good laugh. And, let's face it, there are a number of wonderful ways that a funny cinematic bit can grab you: from slapstick silliness to an oh-my-goodness-I-didn't-see-that-coming twist.
Unfortunately, some funny flicks weave a little too much yuck in with their yuk-yuk. Before you know it, a guffaw becomes an "Are the kids watching this?" wince.
Keeping Up With The Joneses is one of those movies.
On the one hand, this pic's players are all perfectly cast. They're amusing and winsome. And this spy spoof tale has just the right mix of scheming skullduggery, neighborhood inanity and preposterous pratfalls—even some nice messages about honesty and family.
But on the other hand, there's just too much that's ribald and the profane here to be able to fully enjoy the experience.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Zach Galifianakis as Jeff Gaffney; Isla Fisher as Karen Gaffney; Gal Gadot as Natalie Jones; Jon Hamm as Tim Jones; Matt Walsh as Dan Craverston; Patton Oswalt as Bruce/Scorpion
20th Century Fox
October 21, 2016
January 17, 2017