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Keeping Up With the Joneses


Stars: Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher, Jon Hamm, Gal Gadot, Maribeth Monroe, Matt Walsh, Patton Oswalt

Director: Greg Mottola

After Superbad, Paul and Adventureland, one might have expected rather more from director Greg Mottola than this easy-going but not really special comedy thriller scripted by Michael LeSieur. It’s essentially sitcom-style humour and more in line with the kind of humor American television thrives on.

A brief intro culminates with a house exploding in a sanitized-by-Spielberg-style middle class suburb in Atlanta, after which we segue back to the central storyline.

Ordinary suburbanites Galifianakis, who works in Human Relations in an aerospace company and his wife Fisher (a fashion consultant working from home and briefly seen referring to a book called Urinals of Brooklyn) are enjoying a break from parental life while their sons are away at summer camp.

Enter suave, stylish new neighbours, world-famous travel writer Hamm and his sexy and stylish wife Gadot. They visit Galifianakis and Fisher, bearing a gift that turns out to be more than it appears at first glance, and the newcomers proceed to bond with the aspirant blue-blooded couple…

Gadot shows Fisher how to buy and wear sexy clothes while Hamm, who turns out to be able to open a beer bottle with his wedding ring (Galifianakis tries to follow suit but unsurprisingly ends up bleeding) bonds with the un-worldly human HR executive during a grisly meal (a snake is slain and then sliced, the still-writhing segments forming the main course) in a secret Chinese restaurant.

Before long, however Galifianakis (“I’m not a spy. I’m a soccer dad”) and Fisher’s suspicions - “Maybe there’s something odd about them” - prove correct. Hamm and Gadot are secret agents who draw the staid suburbanites into wild espionage action and danger…

The pace picks up briskly then, with Mottola serving up some lively car chases, shootouts, assorted explosions, miscellaneous action sequences and suitably unpleasant villains led by Patton Oswalt; and, to their credit, the crucial quartet give their all – and then some – to raise as many laughs and thrills as possible given the material and, happily, succeed pretty well, if not exactly memorably.

(One gag is unlikely to go down well with UK audiences when, referring to dental matters, the line “They don’t have crooked teeth in this society. This isn’t Great Britain” is uttered).

Alan Frank

USA 2016. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour by deluxe.
100 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 22 Oct 2016