The saddest thing about Keeping Up with the Joneses is that it appears sincere in its attempt to fill the comedy void that only the filmmakers thought was left by Desperate Housewives. Wisteria Lane is now Maple Circle, where two government spies, Natalie and Tim Jones (Gal Gadot and Jon Hamm), move to in order to ingratiate themselves with Jeff Gaffney (Zach Galifianakis), a security company drone whose computer holds intel about an arms transaction. Natalie and Tim’s poker faces may indicate how inherently good they are at protecting their secret identities—or they could point to Gadot and Hamm’s resignation over Michael LeSieur’s screenplay never rising above cataloging the expected outcome of Mr. and Mrs. Smith clones shooting their way through a Hollywood backlot version of flyover-country suburbia.
As such, much of the film’s “humor” derives from watching the sensibilities of folks who complain about the lines at Kinko’s being “bananas” rub up against those of individuals who prioritize international travel above…feelings? Which is to say, the trite delineation between the Joneses and Jeff and his wife, Karen (Isla Fisher), would appear to set the stage for an open exchange of everyone’s best attributes, which here boils down to wearing lace underwear, eating snake, DVRing The Good Wife, and smiling while indoor skydiving. But by the time Keeping Up with the Joneses limps toward its Marrakech-set epilogue, there’s a sense that the film’s experiment in social osmosis is as much a failure as its B-sitcom-grade yuks. In the end, the only lesson anyone learns is the one we pick up from the no-fucks-given faces of the Joneses.