The Joneses, 2009.
Directed by Derrick Borte.
Starring David Duchovny, Demi Moore, Amber Head and Ben Hollingsworth.
A seemingly perfect family moves into a suburban neighbourhood but when it comes to the truth as to why they're living there they don't exactly come clean with their neighbours.
I had seen the posters with confusion and watched the trailer with intrigue, and then finally viewed the film with utter disappointment. The premise of the plot, a family who sells consumer products as a lifestyle, was relatively original, the cast was okay, and the trailer suggested the film would not involve massive explosions or any meet-cutes, so I went into the cinema with optimism. I left with despair.
The idea of a film about a fake family who sold the ‘American dream’ lifestyle to their town in the form of sporting goods, clothes, perfume, cars, games, and electronics seemed as though it might be an original and witty approach to consumerism. That’s not to say that the writers didn’t try, and some bold anti-Hollywood moves were made, but it just seemed to be lacking in something the entire way through.
The Joneses are a fake family unit made up from a stereotypical form of a dad, Steve (David Duchovny), a mum, Kate (Demi Moore), and daughter and son Jenn (Amber Head) and Mick (Ben Hollingsworth). Their job is to move into a new neighbourhood and essentially sell their lifestyle. If people want to be like them, they will buy the products they use in an attempt to copy them. If they dress like the beautiful and popular girl at school, they’ll become popular and pretty too. The idea has merit and the concept evidently works by the amount of perfume and clothing lines started by celebrities so fans can dress like them.
The main character the audience is supposed to engage with is Steve, who is still pretty new to this false family life, and is in love with his fake wife while his fake daughter tries to seduce him. His figures are low and if he doesn’t figure out how to start selling soon he could get reassigned. Thankfully only a few minutes and a montage later Steve has figured everything out and even Kate is beginning to have feelings for him. However while things are looking up for Steve and Kate, Jenn and Mick are beginning to circle the drain. Jenn’s busy ditching school to have sex with a married man and Mick’s getting drunk, hitting on boys and getting punched in the face.
The writers employed two twists in an attempt to diverge this film anyway from all the other mainstream blockbusters in the homosexuality of Mick and then towards the end of the film a major character death (I won’t give away who in case you one day have a gun pointed to your head and are forced to sit through this film). While I admire the writers for their attempt, the character death was hyperbolic, unnecessary and felt completely out of tone with the rest of the film. The revelation of Mick’s sexuality was interesting, but I was confused as to why he spent so much time hiding it, considering that when he came out no one seemed remotely affected by it. Even though everyone was okay with it, what I would have been more interested to have seen would be what, if any, different products he was given to sell and how differently he was marketed.
Despite an interesting plot idea, if you ever find yourself channel hopping late at night in the next few years and find this film being shown, you’d be better off just watching adverts.
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