The Joneses


Comedy / Drama

IMDb Rating 6.5 10 37834

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Amber Heard as Jenn Jones
Demi Moore as Kate Jones
David Duchovny as Steve Jones
Christine Evangelista as Naomi Madsen

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by sailortommie09 8 / 10

Hope this "sleeper" finds an audience!

It's not often you can sit down for a couple of hours of genuine entertainment and come away feeling like you've just learned a thing or two about life. Such is the deft, skillful balance achieved in "The Joneses." I won't mention a single plot point, because the less you know about this film -- other than it being an excellent film-going experience -- the more enjoyment you'll have in the theater.

It's a tribute to David Duchovny and Demi Moore that they apply their considerable skills to breathe real life into what could otherwise have been caricatures in the hands of less-talented actors. The little facial expressions, the subtle glances, the telling pauses, the body language... everything that makes film a medium of intense impact is used to tremendous effect, all expertly guided by the emerging artistry of director Derrick Borte.

It's almost impossible to be unconsciously sucked-in by these characters on the screen, in virtually the same way their celluloid neighbors are likewise seduced by everything about them. Yet, there's an underlying discord, an uncomfortable, inescapable tension that pervades the truly captivating plot and persists through genuinely amusing humor, signaling your gut that something is not quite right. It is only with the full unfolding of the plot that we come to realize just how profoundly twisted things are -- all the more disturbing because this fictional set piece is a shockingly true-to-life reflection of the world all around us.

It is genuine enlightenment to witness the choices made when the characters are ultimately forced to resolve the true issues they confront.

Reviewed by Quinoa1984 7 / 10

something close to a paradox- a dark satire with likable characters- but it's good

The Joneses is not top-shelf satire. Its concept does suggest that it could be something of a great little suburban parable, something that years ago could have come up on the Twilight Zone. An upper middle class (or, let's face it, upper class) family of four- the Joneses, Steve, Kate, Jenn and Mick- move in to a very nice new house. The neighbors are impressed already, and become even more impressed (or just jealous) of how they live, which is quite well and with many little extravagances other people would want. This is because they actually aren't a 'real' family; they're a corporate selling unit, put together by a company looking to have a family sell to the richest yuppies, young and middle-aged or old, in the area, by creating envy and, ultimately, mass consumption.

It's a wicked little game made up so that all of the relationships of the Jonses with the outside world are of a shallow, synthetic nature by design. There can be attachments, but it's preferred that things stay on a simple, amiable social-networking level so that more people buy more stuff to fill in their big-ass houses. What the filmmakers explore is this idea, but also the nature of the family "unit", and what happens with these people when they're around each other for such a period of time. Kate (Moore) is the leader of the unit, making sure everyone is up to par on their sale percentages, especially Steve (Duchovney) a failed golf pro turned car salesman who is on shaky ground. He's not completely full of crap, so it takes a little while for him to find his bearings selling the lifestyle he and the Jones' leads, but at the same time he also has actual not-fake feelings for Kate, which throws a monkey wrench in things, especially his oncoming "icon" status.

A lot of this sounds good, but the reason it's not really a top-shelf satire is that it just stops short just when it looks like it will take off. It hints at being a dark look at suburbia, and hints at a kind of under-the-mat aspect like American Beauty. But the characters don't get very well defined after their initial set up; Steve is the good guy, Kate is the slightly conflicted working woman, Mick the closeted homosexual 'son', and Jenn the girl sleeping with a married man, or whomever she can find (i.e. Steve). This also goes for supporting characters, like the one the talented Gary Cole plays as the Joneses next-door neighbor, who is such a consumer whore that he doesn't see what harm he's causing to his busy-body wife and marriage in general (his downfall is very predictable). And the last several minutes of the film is especially too 'happy', meaning that whatever scathing undercurrent of capitalist nightmare realized going on in the first half of the film is resolved in such a way that is obvious.

However, this shouldn't discourage what is good about the film, because what is good is very good. When the script is witty it's very witty, and when the actors are likable, they shine off the screen. Demi Moore hasn't been this appealing (perhaps ironically so considering her cold business-like character) in years; Duchovney does well as a genuinely good person who happens to be working like a con-man; Amber Heard is the newest hot girl on the block seemingly genetically engineered between Kiera Knightley and Kristen Stewart's good looks. It's simply an excellent premise that takes off only so much as to its conventional screenplay will allow (some intrusive songs also don't help much and sort of detract from more dramatic points).

Reviewed by Argemaluco 6 / 10

A mediocre satire

The Joneses begins with the arrival of a perfect family to a perfect community, with elegant houses, manicured courtyards and friendly neighbors; needless to say that the things are not like they seem. Like many other movies, The Joneses pretends to show us the dark side of the life in the idyllic North American suburbs, and it puts the focus on transmitting a message about the infinite ambition from modern marketing in order to make us automaton consumers, guided by the impulse and not by the reason.

Many other films, books and TV series have censored the blind consumerism which infects the humanity; The Joneses comes too late to the party, and besides of that, it does not go as far as it should in order to provoke a genuine impact on the spectator. However, the message keeps feeling valid, and I also liked the humanity that screenwriter Derrick Borte (who was also the director) brought to the characters. Nevertheless, it could be said from another point of view that the emphasis on the characters' relationships with each other withdraws force to the satire, and as a consequence, I could not feel an adequate connection between both aspects.

I think that the performances are this film's main pro. I think that David Duchovny already surpassed the stigmata of Agent Mulder thanks to his work in independent films and in the excellent TV series Californication; I think his performance in The Joneses shows him equally credible. As for Demi Moore, she reminds us that she is not only a celebrity, but also a solid actress whenever she works with the right material. Her work in The Joneses is subtle and honest, something which can perfectly express the internal conflict her character has during the whole movie. And I also liked the performances from Gary Cole and Glenne Headly pretty much.

In conclusion, the lack of focus from the screenplay, its bland satire and its weak ending make The Joneses not to be a very satisfactory film. However, I can give it a slight recommendation because it kept me moderately entertained because of the solid performances and some interesting aspects from the screenplay.

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