Review: ‘Keeping Up With Joneses’ Nope, I’d Rather Not

Keeping Up With The Joneses is a blasé “spycom” reminiscent of the piffle released at the beginning of the year, which makes the timing of this release incredibly surprising. While the star power behind this film does indeed turn heads (Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher, Gal Gadot, and Jon Hamm), their collective performances give no reason for anyone to rush to their theaters this weekend. Keep Up With The Joneses …. Nah, I’m good, thanks.

The film centers around Jeff and Karen Gaffney (Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher) an uber sweet married couple living the American dream in generic suburbia. The neighborhood is abuzz when word gets out that they are getting new neighbors, Tim and Natalie Jones (Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot), and they are excited to move into their new house, which they paid cash for (odd). From the first moment they move in, something isn’t right about these new neighbors. Tim is apparently a travel writer who loves to blow glass as a hobby. Natalie has a cooking blog that has garnered her some notoriety. However, at night they seem always to be up to something. Jeff always gives people the benefit of the doubt, but Karen knows that they are no good and takes to spying on them.

Keeping Up With The JonesesOf course, we find out through a series of “wacky” (and I use that term loosely) events that involve one of the Gaffney’s being shot with a sleeping dart, that Karen’s suspicions are correct and the Joneses are spies for the United States Government. Now I don’t want to ruin the rest of a totally dynamic and compelling plot, but we also learn that only the Gaffney’s can help make the Joneses mission a successful one. Because of course.

One of the many puzzling elements of the film is why Zach Galifianakis is cast as the lead. It’s a struggle even to come up with an example of a film where he was the male lead and the movie did well. He rose to fame in the Hangover trilogy, but that was a perfectly calibrated, weird supporting role. Galifianakis flourishes in those types of roles where he uses his comedic talents and doesn’t have the burden of carrying the film. His performance in this film is oddly stilted. All he’s doing is playing the same goofy male lead that we’ve seen in any number of romcoms.

While we are at it, What happened to Jon Hamm’s movie career? Hamm is a fantastic actor who gained fame/notoriety for his work on Mad Men, and now he’s stuck in films opposite a guy who claims to fame is that he played the weird brother in the Hangover. He’s woefully miscast in this “Spycom” which requires him to have some chemistry with Galifianakis, and it’s nonexistent throughout the film. Hamm should be the leading man in most dramas and even the right kind of action film. Instead, we are forced to watch Hamm try his hand at comedy. Sorry … no thanks.

This film typifies the current slate of new releases. Nothing exciting enough to compel anyone to your local theater. Just a big barrell of nothing.  With November fast approaching, let’s hope for better releases on the horizon.

Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
I'm a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and have been doing reviews for many years. My views on film are often heard in markets such as Atlanta, Houston, and satellite radio. My wife often tolerates my obsession for all things film related and two sons are at an age now where 'Trolls' is way cooler than dad. Follow me on twitter @mrsingleton.