Light on big laughs, entirely predictable and almost completely forgotten five minutes after you leave the theater, Keeping Up With The Joneses can’t really keep up with much of anything that matters. Of course, a rather dumb comedy like this will inevitably hit its marks every now and then, and most of that is thanks to a game cast who do their best with slight material written by Michael LeSieur and directed by Greg Mottola, who in the past has done much better movies like the criminally underseen Adventureland just to name one.
Zack Galifianakis, somewhat subdued compared to his usual shtick, plays Jeff Gaffney who is a human resources manager for an aerospace firm while his wife Karen (Isla Fisher) is an interior designer. They live in a nice non-descript house in the Atlanta suburbs and have just sent their two kids away to summer camp. Their marriage is in a rut and they are looking to liven it up, which is exactly what happens when new neighbors Tim (Jon Hamm) and Natalie Jones (Gal Gadot) move in next door.
This impossibly good-looking couple isn’t necessarily what they claim to be (he’s a travel writer, she’s a social media expert and food blogger), and that will be all too apparent when Karen catches Tim snooping around the Gaffneys’ upstairs rooms while everyone is at a barbecue in the backyard. This sets off suspicions that are quickly confirmed when it turns out the Joneses are really “Mr and Mrs. Smith”-type government spies out to catch someone in the neighborhood up to no good. Of course, the Gaffneys get more excitement in their marriage than they ever bargained for when they are swept up into this whole operation, and the real high jinks and chases begin.
As I say in my video review above, I laughed at some of this while it was going on, but I am not sure why since the whole thing seems awfully thin and recycled from better movies. Hamm fares best here, realizing the best results from playing the comedy straight and not straining for reaction. Galifianakis has some nice moments, particularly in an exotic snake restaurant Tim takes him to eat at, and he plays well against Fisher whose character is asked to do stupid things like don a disguise to follow Natalie around. Gadot is the new Wonder Woman but I don’t get that comedy is her strong suit — though she isn’t given much to do in that department except look amazing, which she does accomplish.
Originally this film was to be released earlier in the year, but it went back for reshoots to make it work better. It’s OK if you want a time-waster, but it doesn’t offer any real reason to rush out to the multiplex. Producers are LeSieur, Laurie MacDonald and Walter F. Parkes. 20th Century Fox releases it today.
Do you plan to see Keeping Up With The Joneses? Let us know what you think.