KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES (Greg Mottola). 101 minutes. Opens Friday (October 21). See listings. Rating: NNN
Keeping Up With The Joneses is smarter and funnier than it needs to be for a studio action-comedy. That’s something, these days.
The movie is harmless, lightweight fun, executing its utterly familiar premise – cozy suburbanites are swept up in an adventure after discovering their cool new neighbours are actually spies – with a game cast and reasonable technical facility.
Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher are the normies, Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot are the black-clad, too-cool-for-the-cul-de-sac transplants; suspicions immediately ensue. Michal LeSieur’s screenplay simply stacks up scenes of the foursome bonding awkwardly until it’s time to switch to action mode and everything starts exploding.
The real secret weapon here is director Greg Mottola (The Daytrippers, Superbad, Adventureland), who lets his actors flesh out their characters in surprising ways. Hamm’s frustration with the civilian world and everything in it is a wonderful choice that never stops paying off, and Gadot’s unclassifiable foreignness – at least, as far as Hollywood is concerned – is the basis of a really clever joke.
Playing squares, Galifianakis and Fisher have more to do but make less of an impression, which is understandable (if unfortunate) given the way the movie is structured. But even they get to have a little fun in the corners.