Director: Derek Borte
Screenplay: Derek Borte, hemorrhoids Randy T. Dinzler
Release Date: April 16, for sale 2010
Actors: David Duchovny, Demi Moore, Amber Heard, Ben Hollingsworth, Gary Cole, Glenne Headly, Lauren Hutton
I was a bit spoiled entering the theatre by reading the synopsis to the film, so I think I will give everyone fair warning that THERE WILL BE SPOILERS in this review – starting NOW.
The Joneses are moving into a beautiful large home in a small town. The Joneses consist of Kate (Demi Moore), Steven (David Duchovny), and kids Jenn (Amber Heard) and Mick (Ben Hollingsworth). They’ve decorated their new home in amazingly beautiful and current furniture, dressed in the latest clothes and holding the newest gadgets, enough to make any neighbour enviable. But they aren’t the core unit and happy bubbly family they seem to be. They’ve in fact been hired by a company to self market a specific number of products by their clients and make their neighbours, their new friends and schoolmates want what they’ve got. Steve is the rookie of the unit, constantly knawed by his conscious and being fully aware that he is pretending being someone he’s not. He tries to make a connection with his pretend kids and pretend wife, but find that they have no interest in getting to know him. The kids, even pretend, are not without their problems. Jenn has a thing for older men, and Mick can’t figure out what’s wrong with himself.
On the larger front, their next door neighbours Larry (Gary Cole who has done numerous hilarious comedies. The best being Office Space) and Summer (Glenne Headly), look enviously towards the Jones, while befriending them. Larry starts to believe everything Steve is telling him – that if he buys it for his wife, it will make Summer happy.
I liked The Joneses, but felt something was lacking from it to make it truly successful. Somewhere in it all, the moral of the story got muddled with the love story. What should have become background became foreground, and I felt that it got all a bit lost in telling its tale. Having had The Joneses’ producer answer a few questions after the movie helped clear up the ending — as there was an original ending, and the ending they are now showing in theatres.
Though the idea of consuming out of their means is certainly explored, in the case of Larry, I’m not sure they went into this in enough detail, which made me confused as to what the focus of the film really was. Was it the love story, and the main focus a character study on Steve and Kate, or something more? I’m not sure if Kate ever really understood there was a problem with what she chose as a career. But then again, as I said, maybe I missed the point of the movie, and it was simply a journey.
The acting was terrific by all actors (as expected). The movie was filmed in a matter of 29 days, according to the producer. The charming yet lonely persona exuded from David Duchovny, all the while you could feel that he was never sure that what he was doing was what he really wanted to do.
The film is, at times, very funny, filled with satire, with the strange (but familiar) world of people being amazed by new products, whether it be the newest HTC, the Audi R8, the newest suede workout outfit, or by some new food products. In the end, people admired Kate, loved Jenn’s style, they wanted to emulate them so badly they bought the products that they “owned” and “used”. Is it deceptive? Yes. Is it illegal? No. This is marketing to the highest level. The arguments that could be made is that “no one is making you buy it.” No, but they sure are marketing it in such a way that they want to make the buyer feel they will be a better person, look better, as long as they have something. Marketing is at its most evil when it can get under you, and you buy into the whole “image”. Consumerism is one of my favorite topics, and this movie played perfectly into that subject, but I wish it explored the idea a bit more than instead fleshing out the love story (in which more scenes were added to make the love story actually become more plausible between Kate and Steve.)
However, guiltily, the scenes in which the Joneses play up the perfect family with the perfect lifestyle, are a delight and fun to watch, and is the movie at its best. However, the movie starts to lose its shine as things start to unravel (as expected).
The acting is worth the price of admission, especially David Duchovny. So, would I recommend it? Tentatively, yes. I think it’s an amusing little film that deserves to be seen, but it may not be a pleaser for everyone. This week definitely has something for everyone. Out of the four movies released this week, I’d say the only dud would be Death at a Funeral.
Good, entertaining, but not terrific. A solid 3 audis / 5 audis