Review by Jack Foley
GIVEN its main themes of vanity and consumerism it’s hardly surprising to find that The Joneses finishes up as more of a triumph of style over substance.
Yet it’s also a consistently engaging mix of drama, dark comedy and satire that keeps you hooked for the duration of its tidy running time.
When husband and wife Kate (Demi Moore) and Steve (David Duchovny) move into a new suburban neighbourhood with their attractive teen kids, Jenn (Amber Heard) and Mick (Ben Hollingsworth), everyone wants to keep up with the Joneses thanks to their winning smiles, easygoing charisma and keen eye for all the latest designer gear.
But far from being the picture-perfect family, the newcomers are the carefully selected employees of a stealth marketing organisation who exist to seduce the people they know into buying all the latest products they’re being told to market.
Directed with visual panache and slick style by Derrick Borte, The Joneses plays well on its intriguing formula and keeps viewers guessing for quite some time.
But it ultimately lacks the courage of its convictions to leave a truly lasting impression by virtue of an ending that’s not entirely convincing. As is so often the case with mainstream fare, however, the most fun is to be had in the journey.
As such, Moore and Duchovny work well together as the career-driven Kate and conscious-straddled Steve, while there’s effective support from Glenne Headly and Gary Cole (in particular) as smitten neighbours.
The obvious product placement, for once, feels in keeping with the tone of the movie, while the glib potshots at society’s need to have the newest and the best are often right on the money.
The odd surprise along the way is also well hidden, even though the moralising that eventually comes into play feels awkward and out of keeping with the remainder of proceedings.
That said, The Joneses serves as a timely cautionary tale that is well worth keeping up with.
Running time: 96mins
UK DVD Release: August 16, 2010