Keeping Up with the Joneses (3 stars)

Keeping Up with the Joneses

Entertaining yet unimaginative comedy thriller starring Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm and Isla Fisher

The teaming of Zach Galifianakis and Jon Hamm pays surprising dividends in this entertaining if not particularly original comedy thriller from director Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland). Riffing on other suspect-your-neighbours movies such as The 'Burbs, Arlington Road and Rear Window update Disturbia, Keeping Up with the Joneses sustains a breezy pace and delivers a passable amount of action and humour, even if it never quite lives up to its full potential.

Galifianakis and Isla Fisher play suburban couple Jeff and Karen Gaffney, who are looking forward to some quality alone time after packing their kids off to summer camp. However, they're distracted by the arrival of their ridiculously good-looking new neighbours, Tim and Natalie Jones (Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot), who seem to have the perfect life. When the Joneses make an effort to become friends, Jeff and Karen are initially flattered by the attention, but when Tim seems a little too interested in Jeff's job at an aerospace defence corporation, Karen begins to suspect that they might be spies.

Sporting a slimmed-down look that makes him resemble a perpetually panicked Greg Kinnear, Galifianakis reins in the excesses of his usual oddball persona to winning effect, earning solid chuckles with a constant stream of throwaway lines, several of which were surely ad-libbed. Hamm has proven form as both a dramatic and comedic actor and he's a lot of fun here, while Fisher brings appealing comic energy to her role as Karen. By contrast, Gadot might have glamour to spare and convince in the action sequences but she's rather wooden when it comes to chemistry and comic timing, which doesn't bode well for Wonder Woman.

Though the car chase and shoot-out scenes are nicely handled, it's fair to say that a couple of the comedy set-pieces fall painfully flat, most notably a misguided attempt at lesbian frisson in a lingerie changing room. In fact, the film is at its strongest when exploring the unexpectedly touching bond between Galifianakis and Hamm's characters, though it stops short of doing anything interesting or challenging with that idea, opting to play it safe instead.

General release from Fri 21 Oct.

Keeping Up with the Joneses

  • 3 stars
  • 2016
  • US
  • 1h 45min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Greg Mottola
  • Cast: Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher, Jon Hamm, Gal Gadot
  • UK release: 21 October 2016

Jeff (Galifianakis) and Karen (Fisher) are a suburban couple who become distracted by their ridiculously good-looking new neighbours, Tim (Hamm) and Natalie (Gadot). Entertaining if not very original comedy thriller with fine performances from the leads. Breezy fun, even if it doesn't live up to its potential.