‘Spy hard or go home’ might have proved a nifty tagline for Keeping Up With The Joneses if this film hadn’t been able to sell itself on its star-power alone.
A fun if irreverent night of cinema, if you’re the type of person who misses the 30 Rock version of Jon Hamm we all know and love, feel you haven’t seen Isla Fisher in a while or just can’t get enough of Gal Gadot post-Batman v Superman, then this is the film for you.
Taking the unusual step of casting comedy heavyweight Zach Galifianakis as the straight man and bored HR manager at some mega-conglomerate, Jeff (Galifianakis) and Karen Gaffney (Fisher) have a quiet life in the burbs, until the impossibly glamorous Joneses (Hamm and Gadot) move in across the road.
No prizes for guessing which couple are secretly international superspies.
If this sounds anything like Mr. & Mrs Smith, it’s not. Hamm and Gadot are thankfully less self-serious than either Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie, visibly having a lot of fun with roles much closer in tone to the underrated and similarly idiom-friendly laugh-a-thon This Means War.
A premise ripe for good comedy, its Fisher and Hamm who really shine, what with the latter nonchalantly proclaiming that its “not that hard” to propel yourself through a plate glass window. A natural comedy actor who has made his name predominantly through the much more dramatic Mad Men, Hamm clearly relishes the opportunity to confound those better accustomed to his Draper persona. Taking a similarly subversive route not too long ago in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the TV-veteran evidently takes no small joy in running around with a black turtleneck and speckless haircut while ever so casually saving the day.
Fisher, a graduate of the elite L’Ecole Internationale de Theatre Jacques Lecoq comedy school here gets the opportunity to flex her comedic chops to an extent rarely seen since her breakout turn in Wedding Crashers. A gifted physical performer, Fisher owns the slapstick sequences, not least of all an ill-fated raid of the Joneses house to satiate the Gaffneys’ curiosity, more than rivalling her co-stars and even making the best of the times the screenwriters occasionally strain or overstate what is otherwise straightforward fish-out-of-water shtick. There was no reason for Jeff or Karen to take a phone-call from their kids in the middle of a shoot-out, nor loudly and repeatedly exclaim their shock at the Joneses particular sets of skill, but amidst all the shenanigans it really doesn’t take that much away from the film.
Gadot doesn’t quite manage to match up to the comedy stylings of any of her co-stars even if she is a formidable presence on screen, at her best, and funniest, when arguing with her husband in her native Hebrew. Galifianakis is reliably good as the frantic hubby, rounding out a flick that would have been wholly forgettable but for its cast.
If you’re in for a bit of a lark, don’t mind not thinking too deeply into the plot and like occasionally seeing things go boom, Keeping Up With The Joneses has you covered.
Keeping Up With The Joneses is in cinemas now