Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Joneses (2009)

David Duchovny and Demi Moore head up this sharp comedy drama about a seemingly perfect family who move into a new neighbourhood and start convincing all around them of just what needs purchased to be living the American dream. The truth is that the family doesn't somehow keep buying everything that becomes the next big thing, they are paid to advertise everything that makes up their lifestyle to ensure that it IS the next big thing. Including their fake teenage son (Ben Hollingsworth) and fake daughter (Amber Heard), this family is out to prove just how great they are in this particular field of stealth marketing.

Written and directed by Derrick Borte (developing the whole thing from a story by Randy T. Dinzler), The Joneses may not be quite as sharp or clever as it could be, but it certainly tries to stand out from the pack with the mixture of sly wit, intelligence and thought-provoking ideas on display.

I'm a big fan of Duchovny, so the fact that his character was really the heart of the movie (he's an ex-salesman new to this particular way of shifting products) was a big plus for me. Moore can be good in the right roles, and this is a good role for her to play with. Heard and Hollingsworth are both just fine as the teenagers who start to upset the status quo with standard teenage turbulence. In supporting roles, there are fantastic performances from Gary Cole and Glenne Headly, as the neighbours most dazzled by the Joneses, and a solid turn from Lauren Hutton, playing the area manager keeping an eye on all of those sales figures.

While there are times when The Joneses seems unsure of exactly what it wants to be, as the plot develops and things move to an impressive third act, it becomes apparent that the film has been as honest and direct as the main characters have been secretive and slippery. It does dance around tonally, but it does so with great success, moving from lighter scenes to the darker material that makes up more of the second half. It's selling a seemingly ridiculous, but undoubtedly interesting, premise, and I happily bought it.

And, yes, I fully appreciate the irony of that last sentence.


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