The Joneses comes off as slick and polished as a perfume commercial directed by David Lynch (seriously, have you seen those? Youtube it). At least, in the beginning it does. The Joneses are a family of four, with perfect DNA, and every cool gadget that you could think of it. There’s mom Kate and Steve the dad, played oh so well by Demi Moore and David Duchovny. They have two perfect teens, Jenn and Mick, played by Amber Heard and Ben Hollingsworth. They can’t quite keep up with their Moore and Duchovny, but those are some big shoes to fill here.
The Joneses have every thing, and make everyone jealous. And that’s actually what they’re hired to do. Some mysterious company, a company that is mostly faceless except for a few visits from the boss played by Lauren Hutton, hires pretty, charming people, and places them in suburbia as a sort of Ikea display taken to the next level. The more cellphones, golfing equipment and rum that comes in Caprisun bags they can sell, the happier the company is.
First time director Derrick Borte keeps the first two thirds of the film tight, funny, and really fun to watch. The cliched suburbia we see on screen is pretty close to the cliched suburbia most Americans live in. The plot has an excellent pace, and the satire on our consumer-driven lifestyles is there, but not so in your face you feel guilty about the American Express in your wallet. And then it all comes to a screeching halt. Not so much a halt, but a total change of direction. Remember how that Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman movie The Invasion totally changed half way through, because the studio basically changed directors? Or for the few of you who saw Art School Confidential, remember how the second half was almost a different movie? This is the case here. And it didn’t sit so well with me.
I’m not sure if it’s because the satire became a stern finger wagging and it put a end to all the glossy fun, or if it really just didn’t work so well in the film. All the major characters come to some major crisis all at the same time, and suddenly the party is over. Each of the Joneses are forced to deal with emotions that have long been pushed back behind the Ethan Allen catalogs and shiny new cars. And when this happens, the quick, tight plot turns into a sentimental (read: less fun) and what seems to be a sincere meditation on the meaning of it all. Geez, even writing that was boring.
Regardless of these issues, The Joneses was pretty damn fun to watch, and would fully recommend it to anyone in need of a little light viewing entertainment. Well done Borte.