Video Vulture: The best moments from the worst films of 2016 Part Four


Let’s keep this going! Time to say something nice about…


Wait, did I even see Keeping Up With the Joneses?

Umm …

Um. Yyyyes. Yes I did. 

Couldn’t remember for a minute there. That’s, uh, that’s probably a bad sign.

This was that comedy in which Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher are ordinary married shlubs, who get swept into a world of danger and espionage when their sexy new neighbours (John Hamm and Gal Gadot) turn out to be secret agents.

And now, you’re all thinking “Oh yeah! That movie! Umm … I can’t remember if I saw that one, either.”  Again, not a good sign.

Which isn’t to say that this film is horrible. It’s actually quite enjoyable; it just leaves no lasting impression. Think of it as comedy candyfloss: pleasant, but it vanishes the second you experience it. 

These are actors we like, in a situation full of promise, so we glide through the film enjoying the potential it has, forgiving it for not doing anything interesting, and smiling during the funny bits, because we recognize them, because we saw them already, in the trailer. 

So, does anything stand out about it? Well, yes.


As the stuffy, “normal” couple get further and further enmeshed in quasi-legal spy shenanigans, Galifianakis fumbles with a secret, high-tech infiltration weapon, and accidentally shoots his wife with a poison dart. She falls unconscious immediately, and Galifianakis must now carry his immobile spouse over his shoulder, all while evading enemy agents, and terrified that he might have caused permanent damage.

Or, at least that’s probably how the scene was originally written. What actually happens is we keep hearing “funny” comments coming from Fisher’s limp body, giggling and telling hubby how horny she is.

So wait: do spies shoot enemy agents with Spanish Fly? Don’t they want them silent, instead of muttering a constant string of come-ons? That is one weird dart-firing pen you’ve got there!

My guess is that the original test footage looked too unnerving. A still, silent body is upsetting to watch for extended periods, especially in a comedy. So, they clearly called Isla Fisher in to record some “hilarious” new lines to dub over the scene. 

It’s a strange fix that draws attention to the filmmaking process. We stop thinking about the story, and start thinking about editors trying to fix parts of the movie in post-production. Clunky though it is, I kind of like this little peek behind the curtain. It’s like a big, pink band-aid, covering something we’re not supposed to see.

Next Time: Does Reptilicus count as a 2016 release if I’ve just watched it?

John Tebbutt is the Video Vulture. He has been writing about obscure and ridiculous cinema since 1997. You can keep up with his nonsense on his website, Facebook and Twitter. You can also watch Volume 1 of his new series produced for NUTV here.