It's probably my imagination, but Zach Galifianakis seems like he was much funnier in his full beard. He is sporting a goatee in his latest flick, "Keeping Up With The Jones", but it could be that the film is almost completely unfunny.


Director Greg Mottola's last three feature films gave hope that this would be a laugh riot, though no where near original. Mottola helmed "Superbad", "Adventureland" and "Paul" though arguably with stronger casts than this. It is virtually up to Galifianakis to carry the comical portion while actress Gal Gadot (Giselle from the Fast and Furious series), Isla Fisher and Jom Hamm round out the looks department.

This was an assignment he handled effortlessly in "The Hangover" series while the rest of the cast was placed in comical situations; he was charged with delivering straight laughs. Maybe it was better material or a better director, but he and the film fall flat this time.


Galifianakis plays Jeff Gaffney, married to Karen (Fisher) in a quiet Atlanta neighborhood with a vacant home across the street. Everything is routine as Jeff goes to and from his job as human resource manager at a local computer chip plant. He is seemingly the only person in the plant without high level security clearance, so most of the other employees use his computer to scan the internet.


The vacant house is suddenly sold - sight unseen - to a mysterious couple that are too perfect to be true. Natalie (Gadot) and Tim (Hamm) swoop in, furnish the home perfectly and try to fit into a neighbor they clearly outclass. It doesn't take long however, before Karen begins to suspect them, especially after she finds Tim snooping around their house.

After a couple of errors on both parts, it is quickly discovered that Tim and Natalie are working for the CIA tracking someone at Jeff's job who is selling weapons grade chips to "the enemy"; an act of treason. They are pretty sure it isn't Jeff, but one of his co-workers.


The rest is pretty downhill, at best. There are comedic opportunities that are allowed to slide by and by the midway point we have a poor man's version of "The Spy Next Door" with the Joneses practically babysitting the Gaffney's.


There is an attempt to turn the Joneses into unpolished spies, but it is too little too late. There could have been an opportunity for Jeff Gaffney to get behind the wheel during the stock car chase, and made it more comical instead of just another shooting-car chase. But Mottola let that opportunity slip by.


It winds up being far too serious and good looking for it to be funny and teh script didn't leave any comedic openings.


"Keeping Up With The Joneses" needed to take advantage of Zach Galifianakis' comedic chops but gave him nothing with which to work and goes absolutely nowhere. The one or two chuckles the script induces are quickly forgotten once it gets pass the 90-minute mark.   -- GEOFF BURTON