Possible spoilers ahead!
After shipping off their kids to summer camp, married couple Jeff (Zach Galifianakis) and Karen Gaffney (Isla Fisher) have the house all to themselves for the first time in years. As they look for something special to do with their alone time, the two become facinated by their new neighbors, Tim (Jon Hamm) and Natalie Jones (Gal Gadot).
Tim and Natalie tell the neighbors that they’re ready to settle down in suburbia after a life of traveling the world. The couple are welcomed into the neighborhood, and Jeff looks forward to becoming friends with people who are so “cool.” Karen on the other hand, becomes suspicious of the Joneses, believing that they’re too perfect and accomplished for their neighborhood .
One night, when the Joneses are out for dinner, Jeff and Karen break into their neighbors’ house and discover that Tim and Natalie are really government spies investigating the aerospace company that Jeff works for. Soon, Jeff and Karen become a part of an espionage plot and have to help the Joneses accomplish their mission before national security is compromised.
“Keeping Up with the Joneses” is the latest film from director Greg Mottola (“Superbad”), and his first attempt at an action/comedy film. Some of the comedy in this movie is pretty good, I particularly enjoyed the scenes between Gal Gadot and Isla Fisher. The two had goof chemistry , and played well off each other.
Meanwhile, the action sequences are okay for the most part. The filmmakers did what they could with the budget. The director kept the action simple for the most part, and the car/motorcycle chase is the highlight action sequence of the movie.
The script isn’t perfect, but it did present some interesting ideas: Tim hates his job, Karen is insecure, there’s something going on in the neighborhood nobody knows about, the Joneses have communication problems in their marriage, and more. But sadly, none of these were truly developed. One arc that did work was when Jeff and Tim were trying to bond over lunch.
Zach Galifianakis wsa good fit for Jef, and he was able to pull off the straightman role while still showcasing his comedic talents. Jon Hamm got the character with the most material to work with. He’s good in the action sequences, and when acting oppsite Galifianakis. Hamm even made Tim a likable and relatable character.
Gal Gadot is fine as a determined, no-nonsense spy, but unlike Hamm, she loves her job. But since sshe loves him too, she’s willing to find compromise. She’s great in the action scenes, and managed to pull off a few funnu scenes too. I love her comments about how they could last months undercover in the middle east, but only four days in the suburbs.
At first, Isla Fisher’s Karen was nothing more than the bored suburban wife who gets caught up in an explosive situation. But two scenes in the movie changed my mind about her: when her and Jef break inot the Jones home, and when she hands Gal Gadot a knife later on. Both scenes were creative I thought.
A couple of months ago when everyone was doing their best and worst movie iists of 2016, “Keeping Up with the Joneses” as one of the worst movies of the year. I have to disagree with those people. “Keeping Up with the Joneses” may not be an award contender, and it may be generic in some ways, but I still found it to be an entertaining comedy.
“Keeping Up with the Joneses” final score: C