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KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES

Gal Gadot and Jon Hamm in "Keeping Up with the Joneses." Twentieth Century Fox photo

Jeff and Karen Gaffney (Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher) live in the suburbs and share the typical suburban concerns: bringing up their children, getting along with the neighbors and dealing with the constant threat of boredom. On the scoreboard of their lives, they’re winners at being parents and members of the community. But boredom has them beat.

For the Gaffneys, sex has become not an erotic adventure but something to fit into their schedule. And when they do get time alone, the prospect of intimacy is intimidating. Clearly, they’re in a rut. But that’s about to change.

Enter Tim and Natalie Jones (Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot), their new neighbors. Tim is handsome and hunky, Natalie is beautiful and alluring, and both of them make Jeff and Karen look inadequate. So naturally, the Gaffneys seek their friendship.

But the Joneses aren’t just a glamorous couple — they’re spies. And their latest assignment involves gathering information on seemingly harmless citizens, including the Gaffneys.

As Jeff and Tim bond, Karen becomes suspicious of the Joneses and begins to follow Natalie around. It’s not long before the four of them are dodging bullets and pushing the limits of what it means to be neighbors.

Basically a big-screen sitcom, “Keeping Up With the Joneses” gets by on the charisma of its stars. Working from a screenplay by Michael LeSieur (“You, Me and Dupree”), director Greg Mottola (“Superbad”) relies far too much on cheap toilet and sex jokes. The comic potential of clueless suburbanites interacting with crackerjack spies is largely squandered.

Galifianakis, who is at his best when being zany or ironic, is straitjacketed in a straight-man role. St. Louis native Hamm (“Mad Men”) and Gadot make the most of their woefully generic characters. But Fisher demonstrates a flair for knockabout comedy.

“Keeping Up With the Joneses” is hardly worth the effort.


What “Keeping Up With the Joneses” • Two stars out of four • Run time 1:45 • Rating PG-13 • Content Sexuality, action violence and language

Calvin Wilson is theater critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.