The Joneses

12 Jul

Title: The Joneses
Year: 2009
Director: Derrick Borte
Writer: Derrick Borte
Starring: Demi Moore, David Duchovny, Amber Heard, Ben Hollingsworth, Gary Cole, Lauren Hutton
MPAA Rating: R, language, some sexual content, teen drinking and drug use
Runtime: 96 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 6.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 63%

The performances David Duchovny and Demi Moore give in The Joneses are pretty damn good, and the satirization of consumer culture when it’s done well it’s pretty good, but I found myself thinking more often than not that this film at times tried to be a family drama instead of just a plain satire, and at those times I found myself not really loving it, I loved the potential and the two main performances, but something just didn’t do it for me in this one.

The titular family is that one family every other family wants to be like and tries to act like, they’re attractive, friendly, popular, they set trends for the other families who try to act and look like them, and that’s really what it’s all about, because, you see, this family isn’t a real family, we get the feeling of it from the start, they don’t really act like a family, and that’s because they’re actually a marketing device, a ‘family’ made up by guys at a marketing firm, who are the firsts to know about stuff, to wear stuff, to use stuff, and are paid to subtly influence their peers to follow suit.

The thing is that, as cool as it may sound to be paid to use the latest golf clubs and throw the biggest parties, it takes a toll on the people involved because they have to be like robots and suppress any real instinct they may have, any emotions, and that, as you might correctly guess, isn’t that easy to do. Demi Moore and David Duchovny are great at playing the fake mother and father, especially Moore, who looks absolutely stunning. But as I said, I had problems finding out what this film really was, I mean when it’s a cynical satire I loved it, but unfortunately this film, I guess because it wanted to make money (which it didn’t), tried to be commercially entertaining as well, and at those times I didn’t love it, it should have stayed a pretty good satire, it would have succeeded as that, especially with such a remarkable performance by Ms. Moore.

A satire of modern consumerism is what The Joneses aims to be, but as I already said, it fails to just be that by trying to insert other layers into itself, though I do think it was cool how it managed to insert the real feelings of their characters, the fake dad having the hots for the fake wife (and who wouldn’t if she looked like that), the teenage daughter who was supposed to be perfect having a thing for older men, and of course the next-door neighbor who’s life is apparently based on keeping up with the Joneses, and while it was good to see this side of things I thought that by morphing into that softy and sentimental tone it sort of lost the tightness of the satire it started out as, and that was a shame. The sharp social criticism is impeccable and the movie is pretty outstanding during the first and second act, but during the end the spot-on humor and everything else that made this a great satire plays back-up to a familiar drama that, while interesting at parts, completely loses what this picture had spent the first two acts building.

Grade: C

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