Bringing together Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher, Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot as the four leads of a comedy flick may seem like odd casting, but often top billed actors can seem mismatched on paper yet combine well on screen. However in Keeping Up with the Joneses while each lead is fine in their part, the movie as a whole falls flat, with not enough laughs to grant it comedic status.
Set in a quiet suburban cul-de-sac, doting parents Karen (Fisher) and Jeff Gaffney (Galifianakis) are intrigued to find out who their new neighbours are when a house down their street puts up a sold sign. It doesn’t take long for suave married couple Tim (Hamm) and Natalie Jones (Gadot) to make an impression on the residents of the cul-de-sac, many of whom work at nearby aerospace defence corporation MBI. Dowdy human resources worker Jeff is instantly taken with the couple, but Karen isn’t quite convinced, and despite having nothing to go on, sets out trying to quash Tim and Natalie’s ruse they are a travel writer and food blogger respectively.
Karen quickly gets the breakthrough she’s looking for and after an uncomfortable and totally unnecessary underwear scene in the women’s changing rooms of a department store, the amateur private eye has little doubt her new neighbours are not who they say they are.
When she finds the Joneses have bugged her house, Karen and Jeff go looking for answers and soon stumble upon Tim and Natalie’s high tech spy equipment, setting them on their own espionage path.
Recruiting an eager Karen and Jeff for an undercover mission, the Joneses are tasked with not only completing their own assignment, but also keeping their bumbling neighbours out of harm’s way.
As fans of Galifianakis have come to expect, the American funnyman once again plays a version of his most famous role; Alan from The Hangover. It takes him a while to slip into Alan, but the slimmer, trimmer Galifianakis soon goes back to what he feels most comfortable doing. Fisher, the wife of British funnyman Sacha Baron Cohen, is good in humorous roles, especially when the part is physical. However the script is below average so she never really excels here.
Gadot is an Amazonian beauty in this movie, but the scenes of her and Fisher in their underwear don’t serve any real purpose apart from adding a bit of sex to the dull premise, something you could argue is true of most provocative scenes, but here really does feel like a cheap ploy. Hamm is fine as spy Tim, but lacks the suaveness of other screen sleuths.
All in all Keeping Up with the Joneses offers nothing new in the comedy or spy genre, and is only mildly funny in places. You won’t leave the theatre hating life, but you may wonder why you wasted the last 105 minutes.
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