It is not very surprising that Derrick Borte, first time feature film writer and director of The Joneses, has a background in commercial advertising.
The clever premise of The Joneses is that, beneath the beautiful and happy outer appearance of the consumerist husband, wife and two teenagers of the Jones family lays a remarkable secret of 21st Century advertising and marketing. The four are professionals, employed by a stealth-marketing firm to entice their McMansion neighbors into buying the same electronic toys, cars, vacations, jewelry and golf gear that the Joneses have. Hence the title.
The premise works well for a good part of the movie. We see Demi Moore (Happy Tears, Striptease, Ghost) comfortably if a bit blandly, playing Kate Jones, an ambitious and seasoned stealth marketer, effortlessly wowing the local women who soon want to look, dress and cook as she does. Demi Moore is herself an experienced marketer as the “face” of Helena Rubenstein beauty products.
Steve Jones, well acted by David Duchovny (Californication on Showtime, The X – Files), is a first time fake father and husband. He soon becomes very successful at being the perfect pretend husband with an enthusiastic pretend sex life and a great golf swing. The two teenagers, Amber Heard (Pineapple Express) and Ben Hollingsworth (A Beautiful Life, CW network) adapt well to playing the “cool kids,” and look the part.
After the premise and exposition of it become clear, The Joneses loses its way and becomes Hollywood-ized. The “teenagers” are inflicted with serious problems when they step out of their prescribed roles. Steve Jones, who can’t separate his feelings from his job, begins to care for the family members, especially Mrs. Jones. A neighbor’s emulation of Steve Jones’ rich lifestyle goes way further than is necessary or credible.
In fact, all the sentiments displayed in the latter section of the film are exaggerated. Love conquers all and consumerism is bad and all of that. There are no shades of gray. If the moral lessons had been made more subtly, The Joneses would have been a far better movie.
As it is, The Joneses is somewhat entertaining, largely because of its deliciously clichéd suburban location and population, good acting, and creative premise.
Emily S. Mendel
(c)Emily S. Mendel 2010 All Rights Reserved