In the future, entertainment reviews will be a mandated requirement for all humans, filed much like present day taxes. For expediency and maximum immersion, stories will be streamlined directly into the brain, infusing reality with finely crafted cinematic simulations- “cims”. At a classified laboratory in Cleveland, they’ve already begun testing… on me. These are my reports, code named: Total Review.

– CIM #1018 – “Keeping Up with the Joneses” – 105 mins. – release: October 21st, 2016 –

Whenever I hit up the lab for the newest cim I feel like I’m entering Area 51. Everything is top secret, hush-hush, need to know basis level stuff. So while my eyes are lit with the lights of their latest product, the revolving studios employ armed security- not for me, but for the safety of their intellectual property, especially due to the recent influx of digital memory replication and instant vision streaming.  Fortunately for them I’m only spying on the latest action comedy cim, Keeping Up with the Joneses.

The cim begins, and I’m suddenly thrust into a quaint suburban cul de sac in Georgia. I am an average middle-class dad with a nice house and a good job at MBI, a booming local company where many of my friends and neighbors also work. Despite feeling suddenly trapped in a pleasant yet numbing state of standardized comfort, I breathe a sigh of relief. School is out, and most of the kids on the block are off to camp for the summer. But there’s something about life that is still overwhelmingly dull. Even the usual neighborhood gossip isn’t enough to excite like it once did, until of course, the Joneses move in.

As soon as the moving van pulls up, everyone takes notice of the Joneses, especially the couple across the street, the Gaffneys. Karen and Jeff Gaffney are friendly, quirky, and also home alone for the summer, and much like the rest of us, are yearning for some sort of spark to perk up their mundane lives. Karen is resigned to a lousy interior decorating assignment and Jeff is in human resources at MBI and while he is incredibly genuine and caring, he’s oblivious to his own aloofness. I watch the Gaffneys as they peer across the street at the Joneses, and the Joneses are certainly something to peer at.

I’m not gonna lie- the Joneses are hot, but Tim and Natalie Jones are more than just visually perfect humans. He’s a travel writer and she’s works in social media, and together they are a beautiful dynamic duo who make everyone else look bad without even trying. In my opinion, they are too sexy for the suburbs, but Jeff is gung-ho about making a new friend out of Tim. On the flip side, Karen isn’t so sure that they are who they say they are. She follows Natalie to the mall as Jeff gets closer to Tim, and before long they discover that the Joneses are in fact a couple of spousal spies with their sights on MBI.

The Gaffneys get tangled up in the Joneses’ mission, leading to a series of hijinks that threaten the very nature of suburban serenity. Neither Jeff nor Karen are equipped with the skills necessary to complete this task, but part of the fun is watching them flounder when teamed up with experts like Tim and Natalie, who as it turns out, don’t exactly have the most fulfilling, perfect relationship either. Things quickly escalate to absurdity and not every joke or bullet lands, but it’s hard not to laugh at Jeff’s incessant buffoonery in the face of danger because after all, it isn’t easy keeping up with the Joneses.

I left the cim wishing I’d gotten more out of Keeping Up with the Joneses. Most of the humor was on the dumb side, and the action wasn’t anything to write home about, but the real fun here is found in the looseness of performances on display. Each character is completely outlandish, bordering on improv, immediately making it easy to take in everything without seriousness. That works for a comedy but not so much for a thriller, where stakes are raised and lives are supposed to be on the line. But if you’re in the mood for some raunchy comedy with a hint of action, check out Keeping Up with the Joneses.

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