Director: Derrick Borte
Cast: David Duchovny, Demi Moore, Gary Cole, Amber Heard, Ben Hollingsworth, Glenne Headly, Lauren Hutton
MPAA Rating: (for language, some sexual content, teen drinking and drug use)
Running Time: 1:36
Release Date: 4/16/10
Review by Mark Dujsik | April 15, 2010
is the American ideal of the ideal American family. Their home is a model of sleek interior design, huge photos of each
member lining the walls, reflecting their status as rulers of a model home. Their accessories are the newest and
best. When they throw a party, they have the latest frozen appetizers from a
premier chef. They are attractive,
likable, and that brand new car in the drive isn't even on the market yet.
are the Joneses, and none of the neighbors catch on to that moniker because they
are too busy keeping up.
Joneses is writer/director Derrick Borte's
biting satire of the consumer culture, a film with an ingenious gimmick, the
tone of a cynic, and, somehow, through it all, a conscience.
conscientious satire might sound like a bit of an oxymoron, but it inherently
comes with the territory of pointing out society and humanity's faults. In
picking apart what's wrong, one is indirectly saying what could be right. The Joneses is very conscious
of its conscience, and in this case, when dissecting the cultural norm of
keeping up appearances with one's possessions to the point of self-destruction
in an economy where people are struggling to come back after experiencing the
effects of such behavior as social whole, that over-awareness is fitting,
perhaps even necessary.
film follows the Joneses, an affluent family that has just moved in to a
well-off neighborhood full of rich neighbors. They are father Steve (David Duchovny), mother Kate (Demi Moore),
daughter Jenn (Amber Heard), and son Mick (Ben Hollingsworth). Steve plays golf and shows all his new golfing buddies, including
next-door neighbor Larry (Gary Cole) his great swing, made all the better by his
new clubs. Kate impresses the other
wives of the area with her stylish walking shoes. Mick shows off his new video game system to his
friends. Jenn gets all the girls in her class to wear the same clothes.
loves the family's video phones, cars, and giant television.
is not right in the Jones household, though. Steve and Kate sleep in separate
rooms. Jenn is a magnet for older men, and Mick can't quite find a girlfriend.
is something awry with family, and that problem defines what the movie is about.
At a time when advertising gives away all the best scenes and secrets of
a movie, this is one that should be kept off the radar.
uncovered, what follows is an inventive assault on consumerism. The Joneses are the ultimate product of
it. They are the pinnacle of the concept that people's lives are run by what
they have and what they could have in the future. The people of this cloistered community believe that lifestyle and
livelihood are synonymous, and the Joneses are just the right family for the 'burb.
exaggerates matters just enough and in the process invents some delicious pieces
of affluence. There's a lawnmower
with a television set, which Larry uses at night to keep out of the house while
his wife (Glenne Headly) focuses on her plan to sell makeup to her neighbors. The Joneses stock up on alcohol in juice box containers, and no one quite
understands why their presence leads to an out-of-control party where underage
drinking prevails. After the fact,
of course, it becomes an issue.
grapples with an identity crisis. Kate
wants to take her career to the next level (It is amazing that no one in the
neighborhood questions what they do for a living, but if they're living there,
it must be worthy of their company). Mick
finds a friend who's outside of the flash of technology and style, but there's
always a brand or two that's just right for the anti-establishment.
heart of the film lies in Larry. Juxtaposed
with the Joneses way of having everything for nothing, Larry works harder,
refinances more, and increases debt to give his wife what he thinks so wants,
deserves. When Steve buys Kate a
Tuesday gift of a diamond necklace, Larry thinks that might be the way to bring
his marriage back. After buying the
same model car as Steve, Larry pulls up to find his best buddy in an even newer
car. There is no end to the race to
sustain such means.
film's premise falters not in making its point but afterward. The family's group and individual dysfunctions work in the context of
what they represent in the satire, but once the film hits the point home (in a
scene both absurd and upsetting, thanks mainly to Cole's performance), those
come to forefront. Borte doesn't
obtain the dramatic effect he's after, and the ending is one of the more
tacked-on happy ones in recent memory.
Copyright © 2010 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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