Movie Review

  • Keeping Up With The Joneses review

There's too much talent involved in Keeping Up With The Joneses for it not to be considered a disappointment.

Director Greg Mottola oversaw Superbad, Adventureland, and Paul, while The Hangover trilogy turned Zach Galifianakis into one of the biggest comedians in the world, even though his funniest material over the last 5 years has been on TV and the internet.

Plus, since Bridesmaids and his stellar supporting work on 30 Rock, Children's Hospital, Archer, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, to name but a few, we've all been waiting for Jon Hamm to take the comedy world by storm with his own leading role. Isla Fisher is also an underrated comedy gem, and the inclusion of Wonder Woman herself Gal Gadot, making her debut in the comedy genre as a leading lady after a supporting role in Date Night, added some further wattage to the cast, too.

But despite the obvious star power, there's a distinct lack of voltage that runs throughout Keeping Up With The Joneses. The whole film just feels flat and insipid. Director Greg Mottola fails to add any flair or comedic idiosyncrasies to proceedings, and it all feels rather rudimentary and nothing more than a glorified TV production with a few impressive explosions.

Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher play Jeff and Karen Gaffney, a happily married suburban couple that are a little bored and now have two weeks of freedom as their kids have gone off to camp. Rather than repeatedly doing the no pants dance in an attempt to rekindle the spark in the marriage, Karen soon becomes obsessed with their new neighbors, Tim and Natalie Jones.

It's understandable really, since the pair are played by the downright gorgeous Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot. But as Jeff and Tim start to bond, Karen's paranoia grows and she follows Natalie and then convinces Jeff to break into the Joneses house where they discover that the latest additions to their neighborhood are actually spies. Karen and Jeff soon become embroiled in their investigation, which just so happens to be against Jeff's company and an individual that's selling secrets to the highest bidder.

Keeping Up With The Joneses actually gets from A to C, courtesy of B, rather well, with Karen and Jeff always aware that they're out of their depth and Galifianakis and Fisher adding enough terror and nerves to each scenario. At the same time, Gadot and Hamm are as cool, slick, and appealing as you'd imagine. You even buy why Karen and Jeff would be so integral to the final shoot-out, although it's hardly surprising that it unfolds in such a drab and dumb manner.

But while Keeping Up With The Joneses story structure is competent, it fails because in between its construction it's just nowhere near funny enough. It's especially a struggle at the start, as it takes too long for Keeping Up With The Joneses to build up any momentum and while it tries to do just that its jokes don't land and its comedic set-pieces unfold predictably.

There's Gadot excelling at darts when she's trying to remain inconspicuous, Fisher calling Gadot by accident because of voice-recognition, and Galifianakis banging an unconscious Fisher's head against a wall as he hurriedly tries to escape from the Joneses house after breaking in. It's all very yawn.

The leading foursome only spark into life when they're finally on the same page and the cool and composed Hamm and Gadot can spark off the erratic Galifianakis and Fisher. But that doesn't happen enough. When Gadot & Fisher and Hamm & Galifianakis are isolated in their own scenes as twosomes they each give their all and try to stretch and find laughs with their exchanges, but the material just isn't strong enough to provoke them.

At times you get a glimpse of what makes the leading quartet so appealing, but a caveat is always close behind. As per usual Zach Galifianakis is sweet, but he still feels restrained, especially considering how far he pushes the envelope with both Baskets and Between Two Ferns.

Hamm is cool and forever festering charisma, but him getting angry feels like you're being told off by your dad rather than innately hilarious, something that Adam Sandler and Kevin Hart have perfected, while Gal Gadot never looks completely comfortable but still oozes an intensity and presence that you can't take your eyes off of. Only Isla Fisher truly comes off completely unscathed as she is game for everything, doing physical jokes and then going from feisty to housewife to paranoid to sexy without ever straining and making Karen annoying,

That's nowhere near enough to save Keeping Up With The Joneses, though, and once you've kept up with them you'll not only look to avoid them ever again but you'll tell your friends to do the same, too.

3 / 10 stars
Rating: movie reviewed rating

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