Jon Hamm in Keeping UP With The Joneses
Keeping Up With The Joneses is the type of movie that's engineered to make you laugh on a plane. It has more laughs than you see in the trailer, yet even though it's not particularly inventive, it does give Gal Gadot the opportunity to deliver a line like, "Just because I do not need to moisturize does not mean I do not have feelings." But that airplane or on-demand appeal could be exactly why Deadline reports it had a "disaster" opening this weekend, earning roughly $5.6 million.
Except, it's not the "misfire" they suggest. You cannot tell it went through some reshoots, or that its release — originally slated for April — was bumped to face off with Tom Cruise and Madea because the movie does not work. It works. The film is loaded with pratfalls and a flimsy, forgettable premise, and it works. Joneses is not as good of a movie as Spy, but it's not as "dumb silly" as Masterminds, another Zach Galifianakis-starring heist movie which recently hit theatres after being stuck in release purgatory due to its studio's brush with bankruptcy. Also it's way better than The Boss. So, in my opinion, it doesn't deserve its low Rotten Tomatoes score. Because sometimes, just being silly (albeit obvious and lightweight) without being satirical is worth the price of admission.
The premise of Keeping Up With the Joneses feels too familiar from the start, but that’s OK. A spy couple (Jon Hamm & Gal Gadot) tries to "blend in" while on a mission in the Atlanta suburbs, but their nosy neighbours (Isla Fisher and Zach Galifianakis) quickly discover their identities are a little too perfect. She's a chef and baking blogger who also gives back to various children's charities in a showy way, and he's a travel writer? Of course their lives sound too good to be true, and their Google history does not quite check out either.
Jon Hamm is Tim, a spy who yearns for lasting friendship. He's more or less done with the spy game, and it's hilarious to watch him bro-bond with Zach's hapless, but endearing HR manager and self-professed "people person," Jeff. Gal Gadot is Natalie, a hard-nosed, mission-driven spy who loves her husband, and does what she can do keep others at a distance. Predictably, she takes a liking to Isla's doting, suburban mom Karen, and the two memorably try on lingerie together because of, well, the patriarchy.
The two couples spend most of the movie in a "get-to-know-you do-si-do" and when the time comes for Zach and Isla's characters to be groomed for "the business" and get primed for their first gig, the audience knows exactly what's in store: yada yada car chases, microchips, and bad guys. Oh, and why not throw in a girl-on-girl kiss, just for kicks? And of course Zach and Isla's on-screen kids call home from summer camp during their first — and most deadly — brush with espionage. What else would you expect?
Gal's confrontational attitude and dry delivery makes her the comedy-action star we all deserve. Her interactions with Jimmy Kimmel already told you that, though. Have you seen her ask Jimmy about whether or not he was impressed with her breasts? It's a fun, hilarious watch and that's her Natalie in action.
Everybody knows Jon can be funny (this is sly, Hamm & Buble SNL,) and Isla takes her Wedding Crashers-manic-friendliness to new heights with this part. Let's not forget, too, that Jon and Zach have been friends for years, and he famously appeared on a Zach-helmed SNL sketch, "Darrell's House."
Keeping Up With the Joneses is far from the best film of the year, but it's a solid showcase for its cast. Director Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland, Paul, Clear History) proves how funny they can be, even when paired with so-so material. And it's not trying to be anything more than that.
Attached - Hamm at an event in New York the other night.
Wenn, Walter McBride/ J. Kempin/ Getty Images