Keeping Up With the Joneses Review

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Combining the spy genre with comedies is nothing new. It all originated with spoofs of the ultimate international superspy, James Bond, and ever since then there are many who have combined the two genres to impressive results. The next iteration of spy comedy comes in the form of Greg Mottola’s (SuperbadKeeping Up With the Joneses. Is Keeping Up With the Joneses an effective action comedy or is Joneses an unsuccessful stint in the action comedy genre?

Although the concept of Keeping Up With the Joneses sounds good on paper, the results are less than stellar. Joneses is a predictable spy comedy that doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

Keeping Up With the Joneses follows Jeff (Zach Galifianakis) and Karen (Isla Fisher) Gaffney, a suburban couple stuck in a rut until they meet the ultra sophisticated Natalie (Gal Gadot) and Tim (Jon Hamm) Jones. However, Karen is wary of her new neighbors and suspects that they’re up to no good. Little do the Gaffneys know, that their charismatic neighbors are actually government spies.

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It’s been a while since Greg Mottola directed a feature film, and that rust shows in Keeping Up with the Joneses. The film aesthetically feels similar to your standard run-of-the-mill comedies. There isn’t anything special about the film that distinctly separates it from other comedies. Which is disappointing because, with its spy plotline, Joneses should’ve been something more. Also, Joneses is inconsistent with its handling of comedy. There are times when a laugh out loud sequence cuts into the next scene. Then there are times when an unamusing sequence drags on and on. After a while, it becomes a bit discouraging.

Much of the unfunny lines come from Mike LeSieur’s script. The narrative is undermined by the LeSieur’s uncertainty of the plot and the jokes. Much of the gags fall flat and the story is highly predictable and full of pointless turns. Surprisingly, Joneses triumphs more as a heartwarming film than a comedic one. There’s just something wildly endearing with Jeff’s pursuit of a friend, particularly with Tim. In turn, it’s also sweet to see Tim reciprocate the friendship in return.

In fact, despite being on the opposite ends of the coolness factor, the friendship between Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm, Gal Gadot, and Isla Fisher is apparent. It looks as if no matter what the subject matter, Mottola is able to make the most bizarre cast and make them seem like longtime friends.

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At the end of the day, Jon Hamm is the heart and soul of the entire film. His character is the most well-crafted out of them all and Hamm makes good use of it. The former “Mad Men” actor delivers a lot of the heartfelt moments in the film. Not only that but Hamm exudes a coolness that comes with playing a spy character. Hamm clearly thrives in a comedic environment. By contrast, Gal Gadot struggles to be funny in a comedic environment. Gadot is a bad ass and displays an elegance required to play a spy. Unfortunately, when it comes to delivering jokes then she leaves much to be desired.

Isla Fisher is a riotous delight as Karen, whose paranoia is what drives the comedy for most of the film. She’s able to provide laughs through physical and non-physical comedy. Sadly, Zach Galifianakis is the weakest link in the entire cast. His form of comedic acting doesn’t seem to mesh well with the content. That being said, his penchant for portraying naive characters makes him suitable for the role.

Overall, Keeping Up With the Joneses had the chance to become a fun action comedy but it ended up being a standard and predictable comedy. Jon Hamm and Isla Fisher are the ones that keep the film entertaining, but you’ll forget the film not long after the credits start rolling.

Rating: 3/5 atoms
NR 3 Atoms - C

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1475 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.