Keeping Up With the Joneses Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm. Directed by Greg Mottola. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday citywide.
With its silly high concept, perfunctory action sequences and reliance on groan-worthy slapstick, Keeping Up With the Joneses plays like a Chevy Chase comedy from the ’90s, with Zach Galifianakis in the Chase role of the bumbling family man caught up in shenanigans beyond his control. Galifianakis tones down his typical weirdness to play boring suburban dad Jeff Gaffney, who works in human resources and is happily married to equally boring interior decorator Karen (Isla Fisher). Jeff and Karen are eager to befriend their improbably stylish and sophisticated new neighbors, Tim Jones (Jon Hamm) and his wife Natalie (Gal Gadot), but the Joneses have a secret.
They’re actually undercover agents working to uncover some vague wrongdoing at Jeff’s company, and soon Jeff and Karen get drawn into the action, in their own inept way. Each couple has its own very basic, predictable problems to work through, which they do in half-hearted fashion while caught up in poorly choreographed action set pieces and strained comic misunderstandings. The actors are barely going through the motions, the screenplay is sloppily constructed, and the direction from the usually reliable Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland) is listless and often visually unappealing. Even Chevy Chase would have known to stay away.