In “Keeping Up with the Joneses,” a mild, superfluous action comedy, Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher play Jeff and Karen Gaffney, parochial suburbanites who are enchanted by their exciting new cul-de-sac neighbors, Tim and Natalie Jones (Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot), sophisticated jet-setters who might be spies.
That’s not a spoiler. I said they MIGHT be spies. Maybe it turns out they aren’t! (They are.)
The Gaffneys are thus pulled into a formulaic espionage caper involving Jeff’s human-resources job at an aerospace company, where his co-workers (including a skittish one played by Matt Walsh) have higher security clearance than he does. Jeff, man-crushing on Tim Jones, follows him around like a puppy dog; Karen tails Natalie before being brought into her confidence. The Gaffneys alternate between gee-whizzing at how sexy and confident the Joneses are compared to them, and having their feelings hurt by their un-neighborly deception.
It’s from Greg Mottola, the director of “Superbad.” But more relevantly, it’s from Michael LeSieur, the writer of “You, Me and Dupree,” a similarly forgettable Owen Wilson comedy. The laughs are hit-or-miss, occasionally buoyed by Galifianakis’ random absurdity or a surprising sight gag but otherwise unremarkable. He and Fisher don’t have much comedic chemistry, though, and as a character, Jeff is more oblivious and stupid than my suspension of disbelief can withstand. The Gaffneys and their friends are likewise too often the subject of thinly veiled mockery over their provincial, rube-like attitudes. Hamm and Gadot are aces, though. The Joneses deserve better neighbors and a better movie.
C+ (1 hr., 41 min.; )