KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES –Review by Susan Granger

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Dying is easy. Comedy is difficult.” Just after Jeff and Karen Gaffney (Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher) pack their children off for summer camp, mysterious new neighbors move into a house in their secluded cul-de-sac in an Atlanta suburb. They’re Tim and Natalie Jones (Jon Hamm, Gal Gadot). He claims to be a travel writer, a master of many languages who blows glass for a hobby; she’s an Israeli social-media consultant, enmeshed in food blogging and charity work. Read on…

But it’s obvious from the get-go that the glamorous, sophisticated Joneses aren’t who they pretend to be.

So Jeff, who works as a Human Resources counselor at MBI, an aerospace defense corporation, and Karen, who dabbles as a home-design consultant, are determined to unmask their real identities.

That involves suspicious Karen following Natalie to the mall on a lesbian-tinged, lingerie-buying mission – and amiable Jeff lunching with Tim, attempting to bond at a secret, underground Chinese restaurant that specializes in serving live snakes.

Once it’s established that the Joneses are, indeed, covert operatives, the wannabe satirical action/spy caper goes nowhere at a tedious pace.

Formulaically scripted by Michael LeSieur (“You, Me and Dupree”) – with only one topical joke, involving Caitlyn/Bruce Jenner – and lethargically directed by Greg Mottola (“Adventureland,” “Superbad”), it’s a dud.

Zach Galifianakis (“The Hangover”) aces dorky, while Isla Fisher (“Wedding Crashers”) remains perky. But roguish Jon Hamm (TV’s “Mad Men”) and statuesque Gal Gadot (“Wonder Woman”) seem to be in another film entirely, never really connecting to their nosy neighbors, the flaccid plot or supporting players like Patton Oswalt and Matt Walsh.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Keeping Up With the Joneses” is a tepid, tedious 3. Don’t bother.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.