Keeping Up with the Joneses is a run-of-the-mill action-comedy film, one that fails to excel at either action, or comedy.
Jeff and Karen Gaffney (Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher) become suspicious of their new power-couple neighbours Tim and Natalie Jones (Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot), who don’t seem to fit in with the regular folk of a quiet suburban cul-de-sac. They soon discover that the new couple are undercover government agents.
The whole neighbours who-are-not-what-they-seem concept is not an original one and unfortunately this film doesn’t breathe any new life into that theme. It’s a textbook storyline that really only allows for the action and comedy in the film to draw you in and keep you engaged, but neither of those things ever do unfortunately. The comedy is extremely mainstream-friendly and safe, and the same can be said about the action. Both are pretty much forgettable, though you’ll still get a bit of a chuckle here and there.
We can thank Zach Galifianakis for providing all of the film’s comedy relief (as per usual), as the film’s super-naive human resources worker. Galifianakis is one of the rare comedic talents working today that’s funny even when he’s not trying to be. The rest of the principal cast all do a good job with their performances, though they don’t have much to work with script-wise, in terms of having their moment to shine in the film.
The film is directed by Greg Mottola, director of 2007’s hilarious comedy Superbad. Following on from that highlight of the director’s career, and a few other decent comedies after that, it’s a shame to see that his talent was seemingly wasted on a film like the Joneses. It appears that the goal of this film is to be as widely accessible to audiences as possible, which is not a bad thing, however the director deserves better; a film that he can put a personal stamp on and run free with the comedy, without the goal of trying to please everyone, as ultimately that sort of approach has the potential for failure.
On the whole, Keeping Up with the Joneses offers a moderate level of entertainment value, but the film feels a lot like it could have been a direct-to-video release as opposed to a wide cinema release. It’s not bad enough to feel regrettable post-viewing, but it’s definitely not even close to good enough to write home about.
One of at least three major 2016 cinema movie releases which featured the name “Jones” in the film’s title. The films are Bridget Jones’s Baby (2016), Free State of Jones (2016), and Keeping Up with the Joneses (2016).