Keeping Up With The Joneses
Zach Galifianakis has been somewhat bereft of quality vehicles for his unique brand of comedy in recent times, and this bland and unfunny comedy proves no exception to that trend.
Directed by Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland), Keeping Up With The Joneses follows suburban HR Manager Jeff Gafney (Galifianakis) and his interior designer wife Karen (Isla Fisher). Their safe and boring life is interrupted by the appearance of new neighbors, Tim (Jon Hamm) and Natalie Jones (Gal Gadot). Thus commences a spy intrigue sapped of all intrigue by the reveal that the Jones' are (surprise surprise) the good guys, and aren't trying to kill Jeff or Karen.
Films like this work well when there is genuine mystery - a real are they-aren't they situation. But Hamm and Gadot are too present, with too much screen time, to ever revel in that mystery. It’s understandable that their presence would dominate the film. They are two major movie stars, with Hamm fresh off his run on Mad Men and Gadot about to dominate screens worldwide as Wonder Woman. But their constant presence leads to too many “behind-the-scenes” looks at their life as spies, which strips them of the mystery that comes with that territory.
Hamm and Gadot both, however, play their characters well and are convincing as ridiculously gorgeous super-spies. Isla Fisher is fine, but the worst treatment goes to Galafianakis, who is hemmed in by a script that limits his own brand of humour.
The action set pieces are middling, but they are certainly better than the clunky bromance or any of the other relationships in the film. It’s not an unwatchable or unenjoyable film; it’s just that we have seen it all before, and done better before at that. There’s nothing here to intrigue, all the plot twists are glaringly obvious miles before they come about on screen, and the undercooked script hems in these admittedly good actors.
Keeping Up With The Joneses is watchable, but barely so. If you’re looking for something banal that you have seen before, then catch this one at the cinemas. Otherwise, wait for the DVD.