Movie Review: The Joneses

Movie Info:
Writers: Derrick Borte, Randy T. Dinzler
Director: Derrick Borte
Cast: Demi Moore, David Duchovny, Amber Heard, Ben Hollingsworth, Lauren Hutton, Gary Cole, Glenne Headly
Studio: 20th Century Fox

Release Info:
Theatrical Release Date: April 16, 2010
Online Availability: Pre-Order at Amazon for $19.49

For Derrick Borte’s first venture as a director, and first credit as a writer, The Joneses isn’t too bad. Considering he’s new, it could have been much worse. Borte, luckily, had two, very likable, veteran actors to help him through. David Duchovny and Demi Moore really steal the show. It is them that kept me watching and their chemistry together that sustained my interest. With lesser actors, I have no doubt that The Joneses would have been a massive failure, so for Borte’s and Fox’s sake, I’m glad these two were on board for this film.

The Joneses Poster

Apparently, The Joneses is based on something written by Randy T. Dinzler. In Borte’s translation, some of the message behind Dinzler’s writing gets lost, particularly, those dealing with the dangers of consumerism. While there is some seriousness going on, and these moments are often unexpected, they are underscored by the comedy and the more predictable elements of the film. While I understood that the main characters and their path was predictable, I felt like this overshadowed other aspects of the story. This is probably because, as an audience member, you want them to get together, and waiting for that to happen somewhat monopolizes your thoughts.

I watched this with our teenager, CT. There were only one or two places where it was kind of embarrassing to be
watching it with your kid (two sex scenes), but these were quick and relatively harmless (one is just moaning with the image of a car). I wouldn’t recommend this film for little kids, but then again, what young child is going to be interested in this, anyway? CT seemed to like the movie and he said it was funny. I feel the message behind the movie was totally lost on him, but he was focusing more on the fact that this was a comedy than anything else.

The Joneses features a fairly decent supporting cast. I know I’ve seen Amber Heard in something. Ben Hollingsworth I only knew by name, but these two were pretty good as the faux children. The neighbors are played by Gary Cole and Glenne Headly. I recognized both of them, but wasn’t sure how I knew them. Both have been in numerous things, but I most recognized Cole as Mike Brady in the Brady Bunch movies and Headly from Mr. Holland’s Opus. The acting for this film was solid at every role, and I’m always appreciative of that, in any film. Honestly, though, it is the acting that saved this one, for me.

The Joneses Plot
Steve, Kate, Jenn and Mick Jones move into the biggest house in an upscale neighborhood. They live a lavish lifestyle that demands attention, and it isn’t too long before the entire town is eating them up. What video game is Mick Jones playing? He’s bound to tell everyone and when he does, they’ll all want to own it, too. Kate Jones has new jogging shoes on! No worries! Every other woman in town will be wearing their own pair. Even Steve is getting the men of town to indulge in the purchase of expensive golf clubs and luxury vehicles, and let’s not forget how he throws out the name of his travel agent, to make sure all those in town use the same agent, too.

Things seem too perfect at The Joneses, which is a great sign they are. Steve and Kate don’t even sleep in the same bed. That’s because she’s on husband #7, fake husband #7 that is. Jenn is a slut who seeks the attention of any man she can find, even Steve. Good thing he’s not really her dad. Mick has his own secrets, one that could lead to the destruction of the entire family that never really was. The Joneses are actually plants, a pretend family attempting to sell their wares by passing themselves off as the family all the others want to be. Living the high life makes them popular and the family is good at their jobs.

However, when Steve begins to see the impact his work is having on the people in the town, he begins to question why he is doing this job. He also tries to get through the steely exterior of Kate, who has so many rules about the work environment that Steve often eats dinner alone. He also tries to get through to and be there for Mick, who obviously has a lot on his mind. In the end, it looks like perfection might not be as great as The Joneses portray it, especially when real life feelings and attitudes seem to get in the way of the job.

Storyline/Plot: ★★★☆☆
Replayability: ★★★½☆
Acting: ★★★★½
Directing: ★★★☆☆

At this point, it is unclear when exactly The Joneses will be available on DVD. As such, Fox has not commented on the Audio/Visual peripherals and whether the DVD and/or Blu-Ray will include bonus features. We, at LI Reviews, will make sure to let all of our readers know these things when this information become available to us.

Bottom Line:
The Joneses succeeds because of its cast. While the film tries to make an important point about life, consumerism and the human obsession with perfection, some of that gets muddied by the underlying love story you know is coming from the beginning. Still, Duchovny and Moore manage to keep the movie together enough to make it worthy of watching. Whether you’ll want to own this on DVD is another story, and we won’t have the answer to that for a few more months. Duchovny, especially, puts in a solid performance. If you’re going to watch this movie, watch it more for the actors and less for the message hidden in the plot. Otherwise, you’re bound to be disappointed.

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

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About the author: Dominick

Dominick Evans is in his second year of the BFA Motion Pictures program at Wright State University. When not studying, making films, or writing papers, he is working to better his on campus community as the Director of Disability Affairs for WSU Student Government. Dominick spends any remaining time working as a writer/editor, playing video games, singing, as an activist in the disability and GLBT communities, and enjoying life with his family.

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