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Movie Review

Keeping Up with the Joneses also known as “Las apariencias engañan,” “Le spie della porta accanto”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, action/violence and brief strong language.
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Action Spy Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 41 min.
Year of Release:
2016
USA Release:
October 21, 2016 (wide—3,000+ theaters)
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

spies in the Bible

Featuring: Gal Gadot … Natalie Jones
Isla FisherKaren Gaffney
Zach GalifianakisJeff Gaffney
Jon Hamm … Tim Jones
Patton Oswalt … Bruce
Maribeth Monroe … Meg Craverston
Matt Walsh … Dan Craverston
Kevin Dunn … Carl Pronger
Ming Zhao … Scorpion's Girlfriend
more »
Director: Greg Mottola—“Super Bad (2007), “Paul” (2011), “Adventureland” (2009)
Producer: Fox 2000 Pictures
Parkes+MacDonald Image Nation
Michael LeSieur
Laurie MacDonald
Walter F. Parkes
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Jeff and Karen live average lives, retreating to their “happy place,” a home in a cul-de-sac in the suburbs. This cul-de-sac may be reminiscent of their lives: peaceful, but predictable and going nowhere. This is about to change when Tim and Natalie buy the house next door. The mysterious couple seems to be the epitome of perfect, but all is not what it seems, as they turn out to be government agents.

The story line, although somewhat predictable, remains entertaining with sharp humor and enough action to keep one entertained.

Unfortunately, there are several morality issues, and this spoils the movie for the Christian and family-oriented viewer.

Profanity is an issue. The phrases “my g*d” and “oh my g*d” are repeated in excess of 10 times. The name “Jesus” is used several times. “Jesus Christ” is used once, and so are the phrases “For Chr*st sake” and “Sweet baby J*sus.”

Foul and crude language include “F*cking hate” and several repetitions of “poop.” A lot of toilet humor is utilized, and Karen also works in the industry of designing urinals. A urinal with lips on the surface is displayed. References are made to “yeast infections.” Reference is made to “irritable bowel syndrome” and “toilet ramifications” and “pee.”

Nudity is not prevalent in the movie, but the language and profanity are exceeded only by the amount of sex, references to sex and the emphasis placed on sex. Natalie wears a fair amount of tempting outfits. A couple has sex on a table and on the floor, and reference is made to “on top sex.” Nothing is shown, and the couple is under a blanket. Karen and Natalie discuss Kegel exercises, and two women are shown fitting lingerie in a shop dressing room. There is definite inference of sexual attraction between women.

There is a promotion of same sex fantasies (lesbian/gay) and in one of the scenes Karen and Natalie kiss.

Alcohol use is displayed in several scenes. A lead character is shown intoxicated. In one scene a woman is drugged and has to be carried (albeit accidental).

More subtle is the constant theme of lies and secrecy running throughout the movie. Although Jeff is portrayed as mostly honest, lies in general are presented as acceptable. Someone lies to the police. Tim and Natalie lie about their identities.

A house explodes in the beginning of the film. Several people are shot dead. A man receives a knife to the head and falls down. A snake is beheaded and chopped in pieces. It is then eaten. A snake bites a man on the arm. Another man is shot in the head in disturbing fashion.

Spiritual issues

On the positive side, the importance of families is highlighted. Karen puts the needs of her children first, even when faced with a life threatening situation. Sex in the movie is mostly between married couples.

People are considerate of their neighbors, and commitment to people and friendships is highlighted. There is a strong emphasis on communication, as Jeff tries to communicate even with the bad guys. Reference is made to “leave the cul-de-sac every now and again,” which may be a positive message to inspire people to new heights.

The movie attempts to encourage good moral values, love in a marriage and the importance of friendship, but it fails as it still does this with a worldly flavor. Christ is missing. It is much like trying to obey the ten commandments, but denying there is a God that gave them. An important message is to be found in the title and throughout: you cannot and should not want to keep up with the Joneses—be grateful for the life you have.

“Keeping up with the Joneses” is entertaining from a worldly perspective, with good humor and a convincing cast. The discerning Christian or family viewer will feel uncomfortable with the use of the Lord’s Name, as well as the sexual content. Violence may be a concern for parents. The film is not suitable for children. Adults are exposed to temptations on several levels. The film may leave one wondering if one cul-de-sac is just going to lead to another—not the inspiration one hopes for.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate to Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Moderate to Heavy

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See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


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Movie Critics

…There's something likably daft yet third-rate about a movie whose thrust is to liberate folks from their depressing everyday roles. …
—Owen Gleiberman, Variety

…“Keeping Up With The Joneses” is the definition of a “halfway decent” movie…
—Scott Mendelson, Forbes

…wildly uneven… The editing is awkward, the pacing off — jokes don't land, action scenes are illegible. …
—Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

…There’s no problem keeping up with these Joneses. The audience is way ahead of them every step of the way.
—Soren Andersen, The Seattle Times

…An unfortunate misfire that has the odd moment of charm and the odder chuckle, but otherwise isn’t worth keeping up with. …
—Chris Hewitt, Empire [UK]

…offers very little …of anything… isn’t anywhere near as much fun as it should be. [2]
—Tony Hicks, The Mercury News

…Why aren't there any male comedians making us laugh in movies right now?…
—Allen Salkin, New York Daily News

…delivers its ritual quota of action as it checks off every squares-meet-the-suaves domestic-spy-comedy box… makes you wish Jon Hamm would land a movie worthy of him…
—Owen Gleiberman, Variety

…dull-edged script squanders their timing, more concerned with reducing the actresses to their lingerie than with raising anything other than the occasional snicker. [2/5]
—Mike McCahill, The Guardian (UK)

…Don't bother… Stale as week-old bread and every bit as bland…
—Jon Frosch, The Hollywood Reporter

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