Sunday, May 9, 2010
THE JONESES / ***½
Distributor: Roadside Attractions
Release Date: April 16, 2010
Running Time: 95 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
There’s something a bit odd about the Jones family. On the outside, they appear to be a very happy and affluent family. There’s father Steve (David Duchovny), mother Kate (Demi Moore), older brother Mick (Ben Hollingsworth), and younger sister Jenn (Amber Heard).They move to a new town and immediately start fitting in.
To the outside observer, everything with the Joneses is perfect. They have all the newest, coolest stuff. They look perfect. They all get along. But behind closed doors, things are different. Kate and Steve sleep in different beds. Jenn gets naked and climbs into bed with her father.
That’s all because the Joneses aren’t really a family. They’re a stealth marketing “unit,” put together and strategically placed in their town to market high end items to rich suckers. The woman in charge of the unit is KC (Lauren Hutton), a shrewd corporate bigwig.
Kate is the undisputed leader of the unit, and has to motivate the charismatic Steve as well as the “children” to move more merchandise, as it were. Each family member has a demographic and specific products to sell, no matter how ridiculous they may seem (alcoholic juice boxes?!), and their results are totally traceable.
This is an unbelievably inspired idea, and after working at a digital marketing firm for six months I can absolutely see a high-end company operating something just like this. I feel like we’re being outright advertised to almost all the time (my GPS tries to sell me stuff as I drive places), so picturing a group that subliminally advertises doesn’t at all feel like a stretch.
The performances are terrific across the board. Duchovny has an effortless charisma (which I feel he has honed on the awesome and underrated Showtime show “Californication”) that makes it very difficult not to get invested in what he’s doing on screen. Moore gives her finest performance in ages, maybe ever, as a shark that wouldn’t be out of place in “Glengarry Glen Ross.” Heard and Hollingsworth prove that they’re young actors worth paying attention to. Gary Cole and Glenne Headly play the neighbors caught in the proverbial act of “Keeping up with the Joneses.” Their storyline feels a little bit forced, but it was also the means to a greater end.
“The Joneses,” by first time director Derrick Borte, is a timely film, something that may be appreciated after its day a la “Wag the Dog.” It’s immensely entertaining and it has something to say, a rare combination these days.
Theater: AMC Oakview 24, Omaha, NE
Time: 1145 am
Date: May 3, 2010