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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.
Before I saw this film, I really didn't know what to expect, but then as I started watching, it really delivered. David Duchovny and Demi Moore are fantastic as Kate and Steve Jones, the seemingly perfect couple in the ridiculously perfect neighborhood. I especially liked the way in which the director, Derrick Borte, conveyed a feeling to the audience that something just isn't quite right with this family. This movie really makes you think about what you buy and why exactly you buy it. It was highly entertaining and also had an important and rather satirical message about American consumerism and the art of "keeping up with the Joneses."
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).
One of the few times I've been able to leave a full-price theater
thinking that it was totally worth it. I hadn't seen any previews or
trailers (watching TV on the web means that my ad exposure is *very*
skewed), so I had only the teensy summary on the movie theater website
to go by. Thus, I can't speak to others' criticisms of the movie not
living up to the hype.
It's not super-dark, and I don't think that it goes far enough to be considered truly satirical, particularly given the fact that some of the characters experience a type of redemption, but it's one of the most self-aware movies I've seen in ages.
I tried to think of more movies like TYFS to include for comparison, but am coming up short. Therefore, all I can say is that I'd love to see more movies that merge cynical/comedic/dramatic elements so thoroughly.
I saw this film at TIFF 2009, and the crowd of 1500 was blown away!!!! Didn't really know much about the story prior, but was psyched to see Salmen Rushdie at premiere. This was pitched as a drama, but there were laughs all the way through. Very cool. The chemistry between Duchovny and Demi was explosive, and Amber Heard was even hotter. Great story, very well told. I highly recommend it to all looking for a smart, funny, biting ride!!!! Like Truman Show meets American Beauty. Great music, cinematography, acting, direction. This is just what America needs!!!! TIFF brochure said it best..."We should start thinking about who we want to be, not what we want to buy". This film will be the subject of water-cooler discussions once it hits theaters.
After I saw a preview at a local theater for this movie, I got
interested because of David Duchovny. I really liked his acting in
Californication and was interested how he would act in a standard
comedy/drama film, or so it would seem from the preview I saw. Because
this movie is much more then a standard comedy/drama film. It deals
with much more moral questions about life. I won't give much away,
because you really have to go into this film not knowing anything, as I
did. The acting was just good, with only Duchovny excelling. Once you
understand what's going on in the movie, the script is a bit
predictable, but not so much as that it would ruin the movie for you.
Also, I don't understand why this movie isn't much bigger. It's made
hardly any money and no one's heard about it, yet it's a film that
stands out and should get more attention.
I went into this movie because I'm a fan of Duchovny and was expecting a mediocre film, but it turned out to be so much more.
Go see this film, you won't be disappointed.
"The Joneses" asks, can you keep up with the Joneses (David Duchovny
and Demi Moore)? And the answer is yes. The plot has enough original
twists and turns to keep it interesting, but not so many that you can
still notice the few levels of nuance and intelligence that they added.
A very original take on the "keeping up with the Joneses" idea - everybody wants what the Joneses have. It may sound like any other film where we watch rich people live their selfish lives, but they quickly turn that on its head. It's much more clever and interesting. The creative premise can seem a bit far-fetched but it was immediately brought back down to Earth with the realism of the characters. I was completely intrigued by these characters, and particularly impressed with the emotion that was shining from beneath Duchovny's handsome surface.
I had no idea what to expect from "The Joneses". And, well, that's exactly what I got - something that I never could have expected. And it was great. This film is original and intelligent, especially with some of their perceptions of society. It can be a bit cynical at times but that just adds some dark humour which all the best films have. I highly recommend "The Joneses", especially for people who like a little bit of thought and originality in films.
This is a film all salespeople should watch, because it hammers close
to home, and contains some nuggets of techniques to impart. Playing out
like a social satire on consumerism and advertising, and just about
poking fun at everyone who's guilty of keeping up with the Joneses, in
literal fashion here a family of four becomes the quintessential
personification of just those successful people whom we all aspire to
become, emulate, or just plain desire to excel over.
We're introduced to what seemed like the perfect household, where Steve (David Duchovny) spends his time mowing the lawn and playing golf and you wonder how and how much dough and bacon he brings home. Kate (Demi Moore) occupying her time with all things necessary to look hot and beautiful, Jenn (Amber Heard) being the beautiful teenage daughter who's the flower of the school, and Mick (Ben Hollingsworth) the geeky but popular boy whose toys and gadgets make him the go to guy. Recently moving into a new neighbourhood, the Jones family soon become the envy of their neighbours, with everyone lapping up what they drive, drink, wear and have. If you want to be with the cool crowd, then you need to well, keep up with the Joneses.
Until of course the facade is pulled back, and we realize that it's all about in-your-face yet sublime piece of advertising, where product placement both in the reel, and don't forget the real world, are pretty much featured everywhere, allowing you to make mental note to get that golf club, or that Audi sports car if you have the dough. It's about the selling of a concept lifestyle, and this form of getting the word out, through actual talking about, and sampling the product, is nothing but a real world kind of inception, with the planting of mindshare firmly in the minds of the masses.
As mentioned, it's a must for sales people to watch, as it dwells on relationships or the lack thereof, when we fervently pursue numbers that define the occupation, with revenues, sales and profits being the sole focus of existence. Will we trade relationship for that climb up the corporate ladder? Will we not team up with fellow colleagues to ensure we capitalize on each other's strengths? And why not also go all out with joint marketing efforts? It also pays off for looking physically attractive, because like it or not, a beautiful face with the right kind of networking contacts and connections, get plenty of doors opened.
There's plenty to like from this Derrick Borte film from a Randy T. Dinzler story, which examines the effect of consumerism on relationships between family members, neighbours and society in general, critiquing in a nice manner without adding insult to injury when we see shades of ourselves in one or more of the characters. There's plenty of sharp wit, cheeky winks and double meanings going around, that you can't help but to chuckle at, and with the characters, who exercise the mantra of not mixing business with personal, but soon find themselves, through their various character arc subplots, crossing the line with various consequences.
In similar vein with Thank You For Smoking, The Joneses had plenty going for it as you sit back and watch society's faults and woes on display, with a dash of comedy and a tinge of pathos thrown in. For the cynic in me I would have liked it if it had ended on a bleaker note given how society self-destructs when some of us spend beyond our means just to show off, but I guess again in times like these where most parts of the world are bouncing out of a recession, that glimmer of hope about the light at the end of the tunnel would likely be more welcome. Highly recommended, and I'll not hesitate to shortlist this film as one of the best of this year!
The Jones family moves into an upscale community and everything seems
perfect, but this family has an agenda.
And, they say there is nothing new under the sun. HA ! Just wait until you see this story. It's more than just keeping up with the Joneses. Much more. A new twist has been added. Maybe it was just a matter of time before we saw something like this, but the wait is over. It's here now.
When I first watched the first few minutes in the beginning, I was wary. Hey, I remember The STING and I said, "Con." But, I was wrong. It's not that. Not exactly.
The acting performances by Duchovny and Moore are seamless. Their performances are so understated and honest that you buy into and enjoy everything. Nothing is overdone. The dialogues by all the cast are also seamless and honest. No really uncomfortable moments. You know something is wrong with this family, but what? Oh, you do find out early on and when you know, then you need to see how it ends. But, after that, everything ran smoothly and I kept asking myself, "what could go wrong? what could go wrong?" And, of course, something does.
Violence: No. Sex: Not really, you just hear the sounds Nudity: Yes, briefly in the beginning. Sexual content: Yes. Teenage drinking: Yes. Language: Yes.
There are neighbors you marry, neighbors who disturb you, neighbors you
accept, neighbors who isolate, neighbors like yourself. And there are
also neighbors like the Jones family.
They are just there for one reason: To sell things. Things they make you feel you need, not at least because...yes, indeed...your neighbors have them.
This is an immense attack on commercialism and that kind of marketing people who will do anything to you, just to accelerate their careers. This kind of anti-capitalistic films Hollywood in fact always has been doing. And this is certainly one for 2010.
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