Jeff and Karen Gaffney live in a lovely middle-class Atlanta suburb. Their two sons have just left for summer camp and for the first time in more than a decade, the couple are alone; having time to concentrate on their own needs, confirms that their life has become a dull routine of television and vanilla-sex date nights. Jeff (Zach Galifianakis) works in Human Resources, for a large engineering firm that builds tech for defence contracts. Karen (Isla Fisher) is an interior designer. Their jobs, which they usually enjoy, feel like a boring grind this summer. Luckily, this is when the new neighbours, the Joneses of the title, move in.
Tim Jones (John Hamm) is a handsome travel writer. Natalie Jones (Gal Gadot) is a beautiful author of cookery books and a tireless worker for her children’s charity. The couple are so attractive and accomplished, that Karen and Jeff are thrown into a kind of jealous panic. The glamorous Joneses make their own boring existence seem even worse. Karen takes to snooping on her neighbours when she should be working on a project for a client.
There’s something about Tim and Natalie that sets off Karen’s radar. Their other neighbours are mostly co-workers at Jeff’s firm and therefore as pedestrian as the Gaffneys themselves, but Karen feels the Joneses’ too perfect marriage, rings false. She sets out to uncover the truth with the reluctant Jeff in tow. They discover their neighbours are involved in some kind of espionage, but for whom and why is unknown.
The spy comedy is a reliable vehicle for laughs. KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES takes in similar territory to television’s Chuck (2007-12). The movie throws high energy MISSION IMPOSSIBLE style sequences into its suburban setting and the results are very entertaining. The writing is partly the reason. The performances of the leads are the main selling point. Gal Gadot shines in the action scenes, which bodes well for her upcoming stint as the DC Universe’s Wonder Woman. John Hamm’s ability to switch from action hero to comic team player is a pleasure to watch. Galifianakis’s Jeff is one of his sweeter and more grounded characters. Isla Fisher, who—after her great comedic turn in WEDDING CRASHERS, has had mostly unrewarding conventional roles—is flat-out funny once again.
KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES is a light, fluffy concoction with a 95 minute duration. It doesn’t have a lot on its mind, although it takes a run at the idea that couples who have couple friends can gain from the experience. The first half is funny, it picks up speed and travels all the way to a solid conclusion. (7/10)