** stars (out of four)
Director Greg Mottola may not be a household name, but he quietly directed two of the 21st century’s best comedies (Superbad and Adventureland). His latest, Keeping Up With the Joneses is a disappointment despite having a good cast.
In the film, married suburbanites (Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher) have sent their kids off to summer camp when a mysterious couple (Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot) move into their cul-de-sac. Fisher becomes suspicious that they might be more than they seem. Hijinks ensue.
Unlike most comedies that misfire, Keeping Up With the Joneses is never shrill or obnoxious. But it never rises above a feeling of “Well, this is okay, I guess.” The premise has potential, but the film reveals Hamm and Gadot’s true identities too early (anyone who’s seen the commercials or trailers can tell you they're spies). The film might’ve gotten more farcical mileage out of a continued sense of mystery and failed attempts by Galifianakis and Fisher to discover the truth. But the film’s second half is mostly uninspired, with the exception of a scene where Galifianakis puts his skills as a human resources manager to use while interrogating a spy.
Ultimately, Keeping Up With the Joneses continues what has so far been a disappointing autumn for film.