If you’re not particularly well off, living in today’s America is a little bit like being caught in the world’s most expensive candy store with only three bucks to spend.
“Oh, look at those scrumptious chocolate truffles.”
“Sorry, $25.00 a pop. Would you like a $3.00 Jujube?”
No wonder that so many of us are tempted to tread the criminal path. “Keeping Up With the Joneses” is a lightweight look at what happens when one of us law-abiding citizens realizes how easy turning to the dark side can be.
Poor, shlubby Andrew Lane (Tim Wright) is barely able to afford a not-very-nice used car for his family. When Andrew’s better looking, younger boss, Jack Jones (Darrin Meigs, channeling Patrick Warburton) and his wife Felicia (Sherry Hansen) drive their shiny Mercedes into the carport next door, Andrew is initially at a loss as to how to maintain his economic manhood and maintain the respect of his increasingly unimpressed wife and daughter (Amber Wood and Chelsea Bachman).
Andrew’s epiphany comes when a spreadsheet error artificially pumps up his company’s value and he’s made “Employee of the Quarter” (shades of Enron). Suddenly, he realizes that our world rewards bold rule-breakers far more than meek rule followers. Before you know it, he’s stealing a neighbor’s car, bludgeoning to death a hapless golfer for a coveted titanium driver, doing away with a clerk who refuses to sell him a case of contraband Cuban cigars and generally acting like the ultimate consumer.
One in an ever-increasing line of mock documentaries (thank you, “Spinal Tap” and “Take the Money and Run”), “Keeping Up With the Joneses” is amusing, but suffers from slack pacing and too many unfunny jokes. Nevertheless, while its points about consumerism have been made many times in the last 50-plus years, they’re more relevant now than ever.