THE JONESES (15): On General Release Friday 23rd April
We all know the insidious lengths to which some companies will go to make you want their products. All you have to do is think of that god awful Frosties advert and you immediately want to tear someone’s head off.
In The Joneses, David Duchovny and Demi Moore star as Steve and Kate Jones, a seemingly perfect couple who move into an affluent neighbourhood with their sparkling kids Jenn (Amber Heard) and Mick (Ben Hollingsworth). Not all is as it seems though, as it’s quickly revealed that the family are in the pay of a sophisticated company who employ them as professional trendsetters in a cunning viral marketing campaign.
Newbie Steve struggles to adapt to his new lifestyle and with growing feelings for his fake wife, who as head of the “unit” is his boss. And as the pressure to sell mounts on him, other secrets start to tumble out of the closet – Jenn has a penchant for older men and Mick hasn’t been entirely truthful about his lifestyle.
This is a fantastic idea and one that’s extremely relevant for today’s society. It’s to its credit that The Joneses also shows the consequences of its characters’ actions. That’s a sharp contrast to other films which feature a heavy emphasis on consumerism such as Confessions Of A Shopaholic which seemed to revel in retail therapy without any of the nasty real-life repercussions.
Duchovny and Moore are perfectly cast as the too-good-to-be-true couple and show a surprising amount of on-screen chemistry. Duchovny in particular excels as an effortless everyman; a good salesman who starts realise the full ramifications of the manipulation of his so-called friends.
The older leads massively overshadow Heard and Hollingsworth which is a shame because they’re both excellent and have some memorable scenes of their own. It also features a strong support from Gary Cole (on form as ever) and Glenne Headly as their woefully outclassed and envious neighbours.
It’s an intelligent and sharply observed script (tellingly the writer Derrick Borte used to work in commercial advertising) with witty and sparkling dialogue which will undoubtedly cause you to mull over some of your more gratuitous luxury purchases.
For a film about product placement, it’s admirable in its restraint, featuring very little of its own (save from Audi who seem to have a hand in every movie out this summer) and what placement there is, isn’t jarring. It would have been very easy to have a film just as gratuitous as 2001’s Josey And The Pussycats.
Unfortunately, The Joneses suffers from the curse of Hollywood, which makes it impossible for every film not to have a happy ending. And while it’s not as saccharine as it could have been, a darker ending would have been infinitely more satisfying. It’s certainly not the rom com you might have assumed it was from the posters but a sharply observed and astute comedy drama. Highly recommended.