“The Joneses” isn’t really just a movie, it’s a pretty big statement against consumerism and the value placed on “stuff” in American society. When a new family moves into an upscale neighborhood we soon see they aren’t a family at all, but rather hired “assassins” in the marketing field whose only goal is to make you want to buy what they already have. Thus, we all want to keep up with “The Joneses”.
Why you’ll like it:
Great message; interesting concept.
It’s an old adage in America, “keeping up with the Joneses”, it’s a phrase we use anytime we feel like we don’t have the new luxury item, it’s a the basic covetousness bred so finely here in the States. When walking into this movie I hadn’t see the trailer or heard anything about it at all other than a brief description on a flier. Steve Jones, played by David Duchovny, is the Joneses new dad settling into a role with other sales veterans Mom (Demi Moore), daughter Jenn (Amber Heard) and her brother Mick (Ben Hollingsworth). Being such a charismatic group they all make friends rather quickly and show off every sweet golf club, lip stick, quiche and anything else they can find the target audience for.
The thing I liked most about “The Joneses” is definitely the message. There’s no attempt at all to hide what they’re driving at, the purpose here is to show you the illusion of happiness we bare when collecting all these useless treasures, when in reality everyone only wants a single simple thing: love. Each faux family member is doing a job, but wishing for something more despite the appearance of having it all. Meanwhile, we see the affect that such illusions can have on others who don’t know the gritty secrets, the way it can break up a family or hurt people chasing the rainbow’s pot of gold. A message we could certainly hear more often today.
Having such a direct and obvious message meant the trade off of being slick in the approach of the film, there’s several moments that are telegraphed and bring no surprises upon their arrival. Perhaps that is the biggest twist of all, we already know the message yet allow it to happen anyway in our personal lives. However, despite being such an independent commentary, the film never feels like an indie movie. Of course, having Duchovny and Gary Cole on your team probably doesn’t hurt at all in that cause either! Duchony turns in a solid performance as the new guy who sees the bigger picture and debates selling out his soul.
Why you won’t like it:
The message is simple and obvious; not much else to this film.
“The Joneses” concept is clever, turn a phrase into a sermon. The execution is where it should be, all the right tones are there as well. I think people will walk away appreciating one of the few times we’re encouraged from a movie to actually buy less, and be satisfied with the people in our life more. I doubt this will shock anyone, especially when crowds choose to watch a bunch of vigilante kids take justice to the streets instead of a film that holds the virtue of love over trinkets. In short, the people who probably need to hear this the most may not watch it, leaving the filmmakers once again preaching to the choir.
3 out of 5 stars.
by Wes Hemings
Starring: David Duchovny, Demi Moore, Gary Cole, Amber Heard
Director: Derrick Borte
Running Time: 1 hr. 36 min.
Release Date: April 16, 2010