Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Joneses (Rhoades)

Keeping Up With “The Joneses”
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Hm, what if your neighbors are not who you think they are. Witness protection program, you say? No, more insidious. What if they are actually a faux family, a marketing team sent to convince you and your friends to buy certain products?

That’s the premise of “The Joneses,” the satiric dramedy that’s playing at the Tropic Cinema.
Demi Moore and David Duchovny make a picture-perfect mom and dad, with Amber Heard and Ben Hollingsworth as their phony children. Homeowners in this gated community filled with McMansions think of them as “The Joneses,” the privileged family with all the latest gizmos and electronic gear, the ones to keep up with. But alas, they are merely a marketing team assembled by a large conglomerate testing stealth marketing techniques.

Duchovny is a smooth operator, appearing to be a successful businessman with a beautiful wife, big house, and all the toys any adult could hope for. Moore is beautiful as always, the model wife that men in any neighborhood would long for. And the two youngsters are, of course, the coolest kids in school.

But it’s all a sham.

Gary Cole, Chris Williams, Catherine Dyer, and Glenne Headly join the neighborhood cast. And Lauren Hutton is KC, head of the marketing company. Jacob G. Akins adds a funny bit as a furniture mover.

First-time director-writer Derrick Borte gives us a social commentary on our consumerist society, as sharply etched as a Hogarth engraving, as perceptive of human frailties as a Chaucerian tale.

Borte admits he’s guilty of consumerism himself. “It started when I was about seven years old, my first pair of Puma Clyde tennis shoes. Somebody wore them to school and I wanted them. So I am definitely not immune to this phenomenon.”

It’s a disease, he jokes. Even giving it a name – “affluenza, wanting to have what other people have because of the perceived effect it has on them.”

While billed as a drama, much of “The Joneses” is very funny. One moviegoer described it, “Like ‘Truman Show’ meets ‘American Beauty.’” I would agree with that, but I’m worried that he may have been an undercover marketer trying to influence my opinion of this funny, biting, satiric film.
[from Solares Hill]

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