If there’s anything that “Keeping Up with the Joneses” gets right, it’s that you never really know people. The film isn’t the first light take on a spy movie and definitely won’t be the last. Joining the ranks of comically bad spy films like “Killers,” “Day and Knight,” and “This Means War,” “Keeping Up with the Joneses” fits right into the normalcy-meets-danger trope. Although it boasts a great cast, the film is terribly unfunny, overzealous in its commitment to being underwhelming, and dull.

In a seemingly perfect cul de sac, Jeff and Karen Gaffney (Zack Galifianakis and Isla Fisher) live normal, family lives. Jeff is a human resources representative, although he’s not terribly good at his job. Everyone’s always using his computer because they don’t get internet on certain floors for security reasons and he tries to play counselor to several people’s workplace issues, but to no avail. Karen is an interior designer and her latest project has her designing a bathroom that will include a urinal.

The couple has just sent their two sons off to summer camp and they have the house all to themselves. But they continue doing what they’ve been doing, seemingly content with their lives. Their interest is immediately piqued when their new neighbors, Tim and Natalie Jones (Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot), move in across the street. Everyone’s all smiles, BBQs, and socializing happily along with the rest of the neighborhood. Only Karen doesn’t think that her practically perfect and hopelessly-in-love neighbors are what they seem. Things begin to get especially fishy when she and Jeff find a hidden microphone in their home. Turns out Tim and Natalie are hiding a secret. The secret is ultimately found out to be that they’re pretty awful spies.

Spy comedies can be fun. Just look at “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and last year’s “Spy.” But “Keeping Up with the Joneses” doesn’t seem to have a comedic bone in its movie body. A fantasy sequence with Isla Fisher and Zack Galifianakis rolling around and setting fire to their house by accident, Gal Gadot finding out that Fisher has been stalking her in a weird scene that culminates with Gadot cornering Fisher in the dressing room of a clothing store, and clutzy, awkward moments between the characters are all played for laughs. But there may as well have been a laugh track playing in the background because the theater’s silence turned unbearable.

There’s nothing remotely charming about “Keeping Up with the Joneses,” no moment that’ll make all the bad ones feel less so. It struggles to be funny and the scenario is tired and worn. The cast can’t save it from itself and are even weighed down by the film’s ridiculousness, so much so that certain scenes are downright embarrassing to watch. “Keeping Up with the Joneses” won’t make you laugh because the entire film is as flat as a long-opened can of soda.


There's nothing remotely charming about "Keeping Up with the Joneses," no moment that'll make all the bad ones feel less so. It's flat, dull, and ridiculous.



About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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