Some may have thought Zach Galifianakis’ star was on the wane (it’s been what, ten months since the last Hangover movie?), but that’s no longer the case after last week. One sitting President and six minutes of verbal abuse later, Galifianakis has awkwardly shuffled back into spotlight.
And his newest move, post-Obama smackdown, involves another former Between Two Ferns guest: Jon Hamm. The two are negotiating to star in Keeping Up With the Joneses, a new comedy from Fox 2000. Details are scarce, but with a little creative sleuthing we can figure out the basics. Deadline’s exclusive story has the logline as follows:
“A quiet, suburban cul de sac is turned upside down when an unfulfilled married couple begins to suspect that there’s something nefarious afoot with their sexy and charismatic new neighbors.”
Whereas The Hollywood Reporter’s exclusive story describes the film like so:
“The script follows a type-A couple in an idyllic suburban neighborhood who discover that their new, seemingly perfect neighbors are undercover agents.”
Sticking to one of these two, equally exclusive stories nets you only half the details. Read them in tandem and poof: a pattern forms. Despite no announcements as to who’s playing who, it’s fair to say that “sexy,” “charismatic” and “seemingly perfect” all point to Hamm, while the “Type-A” and “unfulfilled” cards have probably been dealt to Galifianakis. And where elevator pitch #1 only hints at something nefarious, pitch #2 makes it clear as day. Spies!
So that’s all well and good. We’ve got a comedy with a mild hint of genre-bending, with two leads in negotiation and two more to come- the film involves two married couples, so we’re gonna need four people here (unless Hamm and Galifianakis are going to pair up as both the unsatisfied couple and the spy couple, a move that’d be intriguing, progressive, and also stupid and 100% unlikely).
And we’ve also got a director for Keeping Up With the Joneses, in Greg Mottola. Mottola is an ideal match for this sort of film; he’s directed multiple episodes of Arrested Development and Undeclared, so we know that he can, in fact, make things funny via the act of directing. Then factor in his directing of Superbad and Paul, both films that mainly feature two dudes bickering at each other for comic effect.
Keeping Up With the Joneses, dangerously cliched title aside, absolutely needs two dudes bickering at each other for comic effect. It’s just cast two dudes whose only previous collaboration involved copious amounts of bickering, and that previously established the Hamm/Galifianakis rapport is something both desperately need. Galifianakis got famous for playing Wacky, Emotionally Stunted Man. He did so in all the Hangovers. In Due Date. The Campaign. None of his mainstream comedy roles have a fraction of the bite that Between Two Ferns does. And, thanks to one Commander-in-Chief, Between Two Ferns is huge right now. Hamm, too, ends up going the “Hey look at me and how wacky I currently am” route when he does comedy (Bridesmaids, 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live). Playing the straight man to Galifianakis’ sarcastic asshole might be the best thing that could happen to both of them. Comedy-wise, anyway.
So let us pray that Keeping Up With the Joneses is some kind of comedy revelation, not unlike seeing the President take a few minutes off from running the country to rag on The Hangover Part III. We shall look upon this fabled video footage as a sign of things to come.