The movie follows a suburban couple in their normal, boring town. Jeff Gaffney (Zach Galifianakis) works at the human resources department of a tech company, and his wife Karen (Isla Fisher) remodels bathrooms. With their kids off to camp, the Gaffney’s keep themselves occupied by spying on their new neighbors, Tim and Natalie Jones (Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot). Karen suspects that the Joneses aren’t who they claim, seeming oddly overachieved and perfect, and finds out that the two of them are American spies. After learning the Joneses secret, Jeff and Karen get caught up in the spy world and are forced to help their neighbors catch a potential terrorist.
Keeping Up with the Joneses follows almost every convention of the spy-comedy, placing normal suburban people into the world of secret agents and action. The Joneses themselves are cooler than any real people, an obvious parody of spies like James Bond, and the Gaffneys are about as basic and neutral as a suburban couple can be. None of the four leads turn in a bad performance, but nothing they do is really of any note either. They are serviceable for what the movie is, but nothing they ever said or did had me laughing hysterically or becoming more invested in their lives. There are chuckles here and there, mostly when Jon Hamm’s Tim responds to the hysterics of Galifianakis’s Jeff.
But the problem stems from the films overall lack of originality. Every turn, gag and character feels like it has been done at least a few times by now. Nothing happened that felt original to the genre. And sometimes, it’s not entirely necessary for a movie to be innovative or wholly original to be fun to watch. But Keeping Up with the Joneses isn’t laugh-out-loud funny enough to make me forget that I’ve seen these characters going through these same motions before. Relief did come in the form of Patton Oswalt as the villainous Bruce, though he only takes up about 10 minutes of screen-time. His presence is by far the funniest part of the movie, making the climax of the film far more entertaining that the rest. However, I don’t think that was enough to save the movie from mere decency. If you are a fan of the general tropes of the spy-comedy, it’s probably worth a rental once it’s out on DVD.