By Chaz Lipp
The Lowdown: Precious few laughs are scattered throughout this action “comedy,” though Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot is prominently featured.
File this one under “Coulda Been Funny,” director Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland) largely wastes a good cast in Keeping Up with the Joneses. A few easy laughs crop up intermittently as average, middle-class couple Jeff (Zach Galifianakis) and Karen (Isla Fisher) Gaffney attempt to discover the true agenda of their new neighbors Natalie (Gal Gadot) and Tim (Jon Hamm) Jones. Spoiler alert: they’re secret agents. Further spoiler alert: their “mission,” involving an international arms dealer (Patton Oswalt) and acquisition of classified military info, turns out to be yawn inducing.
As is the case with many an “action comedy,” the plot gets in the way of the yuks. Long before we find out about the Scorpion’s (Oswalt) plans to steal microchips made by McDowell-Burton International (MBI), there are a few funnily awkward moments between the “square” Gaffneys and the stylish Joneses. Jeff is the HR guy at MBI, priding himself on being an intuitive judge of character. He’s a bit clueless though, with Karen (Fisher, likable as usual, has little to work with) doing most of the sleuthing. Much of this stuff feels shopworn, recalling films like Undercover Blues (1993) and Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005), resulting in a dated, musty atmosphere.
Despite it’s DOA status at the box office upon its wide release in fall 2016, it may now receive a new lease on life. The blockbuster success of Wonder Woman has created a demand for Gal Gadot, the former Israeli Defense Forces combat trainer who rocketed to stardom with her portrayals of Diana Prince (debuting in the role in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice). Besides appearances in several The Fast and the Furious films (as Gisele Yashar), Gadot’s filmography consists primarily of obscurities and minor roles. So if it’s more Gadot you seek, know that she occupies a fair amount of the 105-minute running time (overly long, by at least 15 minutes) of Keeping Up with the Joneses.
Keeping Up with the Joneses images: 20th Century Fox