Plot: What’s it about?
Some movies just work better at home than they do in theaters. This theory is probably even more relevant today than it was years ago since the window from theaters to home video is much shorter. Keeping up with the Joneses is one such movie. Given the talented cast, expectations are much higher while the film is decidedly average. Still, there’s enough entertainment value to make it a decent rental one night when other choices have been exhausted. While I can’t say I laughed out loud at all, there were still some mildly amusing moments that kept it from feeling like a total loss. The cast really does help elevate things here as well. I just hope next time the script meets them halfway.
Married couple Jeff (Zach Galifinakis) and Karen Gaffney (Isla Fisher) live in a nice suburban neighborhood, but have reached something of a roadblock. They’ve become bored with their routine and fairly mundane lives. Then, new neighbors arrive and things start to become a bit more interesting. The new neighbors are Tim and Natalie Jones. Played by Jon Hamm and Gal Godot, respectively. Almost immediately, there’s something intriguing about them. They’re both tall and attractive and seem to live an active lifestyle. The two couples meet and get to know each other, but something doesn’t quite sit right. After some snooping around, the Gaffney’s learn that the Joneses are in fact government spies. It’s then a case of the Gaffney’s trying to hide the fact that they know the Joneses true identities. Eventually, when truths are revealed, the couples find themselves helping one another. There are some amusing bits where Jeff is undercover and other fun moments sprinkled throughout. This role offers something of a different approach for Galifinakis as we’re used to him as the loudmouth or dimwitted character. I liked the somewhat fresher take on his character here. Make no mistake, he’s still a big goofball deep down, but he’s allowed to be a bit more subtle here than he usually is. Eventually the film turns up the action meter with countless chase scenes and shootouts. For the most part, things move along nicely, but the film is never quite as funny or entertaining as it should be. One of the issues is that the trailers and TV ads gave away a lot of the best gags. I also wonder if it went for an R rated and really let the actors let loose if things might’ve been more successful. Still, it works well enough that I can forgive such flaws.
Video: How’s it look?
We get a nice, if not spectacular transfer here. There are really no major issues I have, but it’s also not one of the better recent ones I’ve seen, either. Set in a nice, suburban area, we’re treated to plenty of strong details and background shots as scenes showcasing the neighborhood work well. Sharpness is good, but could be a bit better. Colors seemed accurate enough. All in all, the transfer satisfies, but never becomes a demo-worthy affair. The image is AVC encoded with a 2.40:1 ratio.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The DTS HD track seemed a bit restrained, but still satisfies well enough that it doesn’t become a major flaw. Vocals were fine and audible, but the action scenes didn’t have quite the impact I expected they would. Still, it works well enough that I can’t fault it too much.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Spy Game – This is about as routine as they come…talking heads discussing what drew them to the script, some behind the scenes footage and some clips from the movie. Yep.
- Deleted Scenes – Eighteen minutes of deleted scenes. I doubt any of them would have helped the outcome in a positive manner.
- Keeping Up with Georgia – As if the state of Georgia needs much more promotion in films, but this is a look at the beautiful city of Atlanta.
- Gallery – A series of stills from the film that can be played automatically and manually.
- Theatrical Trailer
The Bottom Line
Far from essential viewing, Joneses is a good flick to watch at home one night when you’re bored or want something lighter. It’s never hilarious and never as good as it could and should have been, but it passes the time well enough that you won’t regret it too much.