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The Joneses
2 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Derrick Borte

Written By:
Derrick Borte, Randy T. Dinzler

Amber Heard, Demi Moore, David Duchovny, Gary Cole, Glenne Headly, Catherine Dyer, Lauren Hutton, Chris Williams, Ben Hollingsworth, Ben Hollingsworth

The Joneses (2010)
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Movie Review by Jarrod
April 28th, 2010

When Steve Jones (David Duchovny), his wife Kate (Demi Moore), and their two teenage children, Mick (Ben Hollingsworth) and Jenn (Amber Heard) move into an affluent gated community, they are immediately noticed, and envied, by their neighbors and classmates, who marvel at the clothes they wear, the electronic accessories they carry, the cars they drive, the elegant and trendy interior of the house they live in. Everything about them seems perfect. Maybe too perfect.

They are too nice, too well-adjusted, too happy, too privileged, and too attractive. Turns out they are not really a family, but a group of professional marketers , who represent a company called LifeImage, and all of their supposed possessions are merely items they are hoping to sell. They show off the goods and try to get people to buy them, and the couple next door, Larry (Gary Cole) and Summer (Glenne Headley) take the bait, even though Larry descends deeper into debt, using credit cards when he runs out of money. No, Steve and Kate are not married. Jenn and Mick are not their kids, and are not even high school students.

The four of them are coworkers, and the fašade they present to the outside world is an elaborately constructed one, kept alive by Kate, the most dedicated and ruthless of the bunch. Steve is still trying to prove his worth to LifeImage head, KC (Lauren Hutton), who has been disappointed with his initial sales records. A former car dealer, Steve is charming and persuasive, and has a talent for business, but seems to be bothered by the fact that his life has become nothing more than a deception, and he yearns for a real, authentic relationship.

Kate, the no-nonsense veteran, will begin to develop romantic feelings for Steve, against her better judgment, and, at this point, the plot becomes more conventional, deviating from its deliciously cynical and intriguing premise, and abandoning much of its darkly satirical tone to deliver some moments of heavy-handed drama, and artificial dilemmas, which serve only as filler. It is inevitable that the Joneses will fall into the roles they are playing, with Jenn and Mick seeking comfort and advice from their pseudo-mom Kate, and Kate and Steve acting more and more like husband and wife.

Duchovny makes for a fine protagonist, offering a solid and engaging performance. Moore, however, steals the spotlight, as the ravishing Kate; this is some of Moore's most complex and impressive work to date. She looks better with age, and Kate admits some painful truths about how much longer she can convincingly uphold the illusion of the being the "mother" in these quaint scenarios. Writer-director Derrick Borte raises a lot of fascinating questions about American society, and how we seem compelled to live beyond our means and buy things we cannot afford.

While Borte rightly criticizes corporate greed and LifeImage's dishonest and unethical selling practices, he skips over the idea of personal responsibility, and how placing all the blame on the corporation hides the lack of financial restraint on the part of the consumer, who must learn to face the consequences of his or her actions. The current economic crisis was caused in no small part by fiscal irresponsibility and recklessness. Thrift and frugality are not necessarily traits to be looked down upon, or regarded as miserly. I feel that Borte is sending out a muddled message.

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