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Have Fun Keeping Up with The Joneses

A film that deftly skewers consumerism run wild.

by
Christian Toto

Bio

April 18, 2010 - 12:00 am
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It’s hard not to envy the Joneses, and that’s the whole point of a new film skewering consumerism.

Imagine a family who always have the latest stuff — the coolest car, the sweetest golf clubs, and the trendiest clothes.

Wouldn’t you want to be like them? Or at least shop where they shop?

The Joneses imagines just such a scenario, giving us a faux family who exist simply to advertise products to their neighbors.

It’s the ultimate stealth marketing campaign — and a way to slam consumerism gone wild.

In an age of reboots, remakes, and sequels, The Joneses boasts a rigorously original story. And, blissfully, we don’t get a lecture every 10 minutes on the evils of having a big screen TV or fancy car. The story weaves its messages deftly into the narrative, and while it’s impossible to miss the big picture — spending on luxury items is bad, especially for those who can’t afford them — it’s also delicate in its execution.

David Duchovny and Demi Moore star as Steve and Kate Jones, a handsome married couple who move into a new neighborhood along with their equally perfect teen children. They’re a couple right out of a Norman Rockwell painting, except Steve and Kate still smooch like newlyweds.

But it’s all an act.

The “family” is a team of salespeople thrown together to sell products. When Steve hits the links he tells his golf buddies about the great new clubs he just picked up. Kate invites her neighbors over for a swanky party and confesses her scrumptious appetizers are actually from a frozen food company — available now at your local supermarket.

Kate is the boss, a veteran marketer who knows what it takes to boost their sales figures. But Steve isn’t quite sold on the concept, and sometimes when he’s playing the doting husband some real emotions surface.

The Joneses works best when it shows how flaunting the right necklace, dress, or sports car can help you gain friends in a hurry. The children of the family don’t suffer any growing pains in their new high school. Instead, they’re instant icons, beloved for their good looks and sharp sartorial choices.

The Joneses starts with satirical snap, but the film quickly falls into generic story arcs. Daughter Jenn (Amber Heard) is attracted to older, unavailable men. And son Mick (Ben Hollingsworth) has a secret beyond the fact that he’s taking part in a fictional family.

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