Mark Reardon (@MarkReardonKMOX)By Mark Reardon

Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot play the perfect suburban couple who might just be leading a double life in the new spy comedy “Keeping up with the Joneses.”

The two play Tim and Natalie Jones–just about as perfect a couple as they come. Tim is a travel writer who claims to blow glass for a hobby in his spare time. Natalie, a social media consultant who gives a lot back by running an International children’s charity on the side and has culinary skills that would blow even Rachel Ray away. The Jone’s have just moved into to a cul-de-sac in Atlanta and quickly become besties with Jeff and Karen Gaffney played by Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher. Jeff is a human resources director at a big aerospace defense contractor and their life and marriage couldn’t be more boring. Until that is Karen starts to suspect that the Joneses might be up to something sneaky and follows Natalie on a shopping trip where her suspicions are confirmed.

We’ve seen one of our St. Louis favorite sons, Jon Hamm, pull off comedy before, but never in a starring role like this. And he’s about as perfect as his chiseled jawline. Line after line is delivered with dry comedic precision —  especially in scenes with the slimmed-down Galifianakis, who pulls off his character with nerdy charm. The ladies bring their A game too. Gal Gadot, who’s in the on deck circle for Wonder Woman next year, flashes–literally sometimes–a strong comedic counter punch. Isla Fisher has been one of the funniest women on screen since “Wedding Crashers” and gets some great material to work with here.

I can’t find much to not like — a great cast, a snappy pace, some laugh out loud hilarity, a few pretty fun action/chase scenes and it all comes together for a pretty nice payoff for the finale. As far as PG-13 comedies go—this one has it all. I’ve always been a firm believer that mindset and expectations play a role in how audiences enjoy movies. For example in this instance after being constantly barraged with non-stop election negativity I was really looking for something to just take my mind completely off of what’s happening in the news. So I went in with an open mind and this movie did exactly what I had hoped. It’s not a top tier comedy gem, but I really believe it’s a movie that has a more than average amount of laughs with a dynamite cast. Hamm in particular is just fun to watch executing comedy. Galifianakis has a shtick that shtick that to a certain extent has worn thin and because repetitive, but his dweeby sweet portrayal of Jeff makes you root for him. Director Greg Mottola (“SuperBad” “Adventureland”) certainly isn’t venturing in to anything cutting edge with this film, but sometimes it’s good enough for a comedy to deliver exactly what it sets out to achieve—laughter. I think it does that.

I’m giving “Keeping up with the Joneses” a B.

 

P.S. – I always write these reviews before checking out the overall ratings on rottentomatoes.com, and after doing so I learned that “Keeping up with the Joneses” isn’t getting as glowing reviews from most critics! I’ll stand my ground because I still liked it—but admit a St. Louis bias because of Hamm—and since I was so hungry for escapism from our national nightmare that is this election season I might have been swayed a little more than usual!

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