101 minutes | PG-13
Keeping Up With The Joneses is dreadful. The plot is inept and full of holes. Throughout, I could hardly muster a giggle at any of the would-be jokes. Nothing about it is fun, dynamic or interesting. The only people who should see this are those who either hate themselves, or love really terrible movies (and no, this isn’t even a “so bad it’s good” thing).
It has a decent cast. But the biggest problem is Zach Galifianakis. His immature, dumb man-child screen persona hasn’t been funny since The Hangover (2009), and it sure as heck isn’t funny here. It’s instead annoying and insulting to the audience’s intelligence—and given that we leave our brains at the door for a movie like this, that’s saying a lot.
The weak plot has a concept that could have worked, but doesn’t. Jeff (Galifianakis) and Karen are boring suburbanites whose two kids are conveniently sent off to summer camp. They have new neighbors in their cul-de-sac: Tim and Natalie Jones, a seemingly perfect couple, he being a travel writer and she a social media director who helps orphans. They’re also spies.
They’ve lived in 30 cities in 10 years, and nosey mega-mom Karen catches on right quick, because the Joneses are absolutely terrible at remaining covert. In one scene, the Joneses remove an important briefcase from a car trunk while standing at the foot of the driveway. They have a garage, but apparently doing this so everyone in the cul-de-sac can see is appropriate. For a while I thought they wanted Jeff and Karen to know the truth. Turns out, that was wrong.
It all feels like a hack job by director Greg Mottola (Superbad) and writer Michael LeSieur (You, Me and Dupree), who give the actors little to work with, including stilted, unfunny dialog. The action scenes are the most boring I’ve seen this year, and the story’s lack of logic is confounding.
Keeping Up With The Joneses is the kind of movie in which pretty much everything went wrong. The darkened, foul-smelling stain that is the 101 minutes of this picture will follow the cast and filmmakers forever.