HBO had another free weekend in July, mainly as an enticement for the latest season of Games of Thrones. On the other hand, we used it to catch up on some movies we missed in the theaters last summer.
Keeping Up with the Joneses was one of those movies. I admit I've had a girl-crush on Gal Gadot since her first appearance in the Fast & Furious franchise so I'd really wanted to see it. Since this movie has been out for nearly a year, you're not going to get my normal SPOILERS warning.
With this cast, especially Zach Galifianakis, I assumed that this would be a laugh riot. It was...okay.
The premise is simple and perfect. A suburban couple is stuck in a rut. When their kids are away to summer camp, a new, super-elegant, super-perfect couple move in next door, except the new couple are not what they seem.
I'm not sure if it was Michael LeSieur's writing or Greg Mottola's directing that screwed this up. The best (or worst) example of wrongness was the scene where Isla Fisher's Karen has grown suspicious of her new neighbors and stalks Gadot's Natalie into the lingerie department of a store. Gadot comes on as an overbearing butch. The actress is obviously uncomfortable, and Isla is trying to play off her. The whole thing comes off as very awkward. Why they didn't let Gadot use her natural charm in the semi-seductive scene is beyond me.
This scene is a setup for another payoff later, but the awkwardness here ruins the convincing play during the payoff scene, so I'm pretty damn sure it's not the actors.
An example of how good the cast is comes when Jon Hamm's Tim confesses his job dissatisfaction to Zach's Jeff. The tough guy slowly lowering his walls and clicks with his neighbor.
Maybe it's the writer in me seeing where a joke could be added or where another joke could have been punched up. I really wanted to love this movie, but this should have been the Spy for 2016. It wasn't, and a part of me is sorely disappointed.
Keeping Up with the Joneses is not a bad movie. It simply wasn't as good as it could have been. Overall, I give it 6 out of 10 stars.
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