Everybody has got to grow up some time and for the weirdy beardy man-child of comedy that is Zach Galifianakis, that time seems to be Keeping Up with the Joneses.

Whether that's a good thing is debatable. He's curiously constricted, so not very funny as a responsible adult in this. It's a movie that is hampered by a script that feels all set-up and little pay-off, though as a comedy it's partly saved by an amusing Mr and Mrs Smith turn by Jon Hamm and Gadot - yes Mad Man meets Wonder Woman.

Galifianakis is suburban dad Jeff Gaffney with a job in HR who is moderately happily married to Karen (Isla Fisher), an interior decorator. They've just got new neighbours Tim and Natalie Jones (Hamm and Gadot) in their leafy Atlanta cul de sac.

A scene from the film, Keeping Up with the Joneses.
A scene from the film, Keeping Up with the Joneses.

The criminally handsome and multilingual couple have seemingly fabulous careers as a travel writer and food blogger.

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But they turn out to be spies. Ones with a special interest in Jeff's office, an aerospace company where his friendliness to his rocket science workmates may have landed him in it.

Eventually, after a long laboured period of mutual snooping, the Joneses and Gaffneys partner up for some counter-espionage with the amateurs thrown in the deep end while the pros try to protect them.

After a dull start, the movie thankfully kicks up a gear once we get to know the mysterious Joneses and the comedy isn't relying so much on the daffy domestics of the Gaffaneys, or the bromance between Jeff and Tim, or some dated desperate lesbian tension gags between Natalie and Karen.

A scene from the film, Keeping Up with the Joneses.
A scene from the film, Keeping Up with the Joneses.

However, anyone who has suffered through vacuous HR-speak will be mildly amused by Jeff's attempts to "connect".

Take out some of that contemporary stuff above, though, and this movie could have existed at any time since they first started making spy spoofs alongside Cold War spy movies.

So it's old fashioned and laboured but it does get there, kind of, in the end there's some amusing one-liners, especially from comedy newbie Gadot ('I may not need to moisturise but I still have feelings!").

Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher, Gal Gadot and Jon Hamm star in Keeping Up With The Joneses. Photo / AP
Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher, Gal Gadot and Jon Hamm star in Keeping Up With The Joneses. Photo / AP

But as a spoof or spy movie, you have to say this about Keeping up with the Joneses - it sure can't keep up with those Smiths.


Cast: Jon Hamm, Zach Galifianakis, Gal Gadot, Isla Fisher
Director: Greg Mottola
Rating: M (violence, sexual references & offensive language)
Running time: 105 mins
Verdict: Slightly amusing suburban spy spoof