Fun with Cutthroat Suburban Consumerism 


The Joneses
Directed by Derrick Borte

A true movie of our time, this first effort from writer/director Derrick Borte has a great premise: a seemingly picture-perfect family moves to suburbia and impresses everyone with their style and possessions. But the Joneses are really "stealth marketers," infiltrating affluent neighborhoods to peddle upscale merchandise, from food to sporting equipment. Given his laconic, unflappable nature and her pretty-but-remote persona, David Duchovny and Demi Moore are well-cast as Steve and Kate "Jones," and Lauren Hutton also has fun with her role as their driven, numbers-obsessed boss (although the Joneses' company and its inner workings are barely mentioned, a missed comedic opportunity).

But once we get past the set-up and see how seamlessly the Joneses integrate into their community, the movie stalls. Someone like Paul Rudnick or Larry Gelbart (or in an earlier generation, Preston Sturges or Billy Wilder) could have had a field day with this scenario, but instead of a wild, satiric indictment of rampant consumerism and conformity, it morphs into a drama of how this unconventional "family" tries to become a real one (well, at least through Steve's continual efforts to woo Kate). The tone, which is largely as restrained and conventional as the prominently displayed Ethan Allen furniture, doesn't help, not to mention the intrusive faux-alternative songs over much of the action (especially grating in a climactic suicide scene). While it does score some satiric points, it could have been so much more; as it stands, there's more trenchant social commentary in an episode of Better Off Ted.

Opens April 16


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