The Joneses

The Joneses

DIR: Derrick Borte • WRI: Derrick Borte, Randy T. Dinzler • PRO: Derrick Borte, Doug Mankoff, Andrew Spaulding, Kristi Zea • DOP: Yaron Orbach • ED: Janice Hampton • DES: Kristi Zea • CAST: Amber Heard, Demi Moore, David Duchovny, Gary Cole, Ben Hollingsworth

What we have here is half an idea in search of a film. It doesn’t find it and ends up getting lost somewhere in Blandsville. The initial interesting premise cannot sustain itself and fails to be satisfactorily explored eventually being subsumed by a disappointing, predictable melodrama.

The Joneses are the ‘perfect’ family who move into a ‘perfect’ American suburb and begin to make everyone else’s lives more ‘perfect’. They do this by making themselves the envy of the town with their fashionable goods and lifestyle. As Yoda might not say – Envy leads to covetousness. Covetousness leads to consumers. Consumers lead to profit.

For what the town don’t know is that the Joneses are not a family but an undercover team of salespeople, located within communities in order to shift units. They are instructed by their ruthless boss that they are ‘here to sell a lifestyle, an attitude – if they like you, they’ll like what you have.’

The faux family are headed by Demi Moore and David Duchovny; neither stretched in their roles. Duchovny plays the conscience-stricken neighbourhood trendsetter well enough, bringing his particular style of charisma to the fore and the expressionless Moore brings all the necessary screen presence of an unfurnished dollhouse to her cold-hearted manipulator role. Amber Heard puts in a good performance as the sex-crazed daughter Jenn and Gary Cole chips in as the reckless, wannabe neighbour caught up in the scam who digs deeper and deeper into his pocket to buy into the dream.

Unfortunately, the directionless script, shallow characterisation and contrived ending are the obvious result of a lack of conviction (or perhaps skill) on behalf of the writers of where they could take this film. Any notion of satire is soon disposed of and replaced with a light middle-of-the-road comic touch. The film tries to gently tickle you, which is a shame because there was a good opportunity here to elbow you in the ribcage and capture that ol’ zeitgeist thing  and have a proper go at consumerism and the nature of people being sold useless things they don’t need and can’t afford, yet buy in a failed attempt to fill an emptiness with the pursuit of material things. Full on farce could perhaps have been another option. But in the end The Joneses doesn’t seem to know what to do with itself and comes across as an unsatisfactory attempt to overcome the writer’s block Borte and Dinsler obviously encountered trying to stretch out their initial idea.

Not as smart as it sets out to be, the film treads its water at the shallow end and cops out by delivering its corny message about the value of love, blah, blah, blah. The longer it went on, the less it had to say and by the end it leaves you with an empty feeling. The DVD will be available to purchase in the shops shortly…

Steven Galvin

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
The Joneses
is released on 23 April 2010

The Joneses – Official Website

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