This morning you probably got ready to go to work by putting on your work clothes, eating breakfast, grabbing your purse or your wallet, and maybe driving yourself into the office. After work today you’ll probably go home, change into your “going out” clothes, call your friends, and head out to blow off some steam. What if someone told you that everything you did this morning from picking out your clothes, to making your breakfast, to choosing where you’re going wasn’t entirely your choice? What if everything you decided to buy was instead a product of a new kind of marketing technique called stealth marketing and you’re just another cog in the mass consumerism wheel? Well one, you’d probably roll your eyes and think you’re talking to a conspiracy enthusiast, or two, and probably more likely, you’d be talking about the new movie, “The Joneses” staring Demi Moore and David Duchovny.
“The Joneses” follows a seemingly perfect family living out the modern American dream in a picturesque and affluent community. Kate Jones, played by Demi Moore, and Steve Jones, played by David Duchovny are the perfect couple. They’re the most popular couple in town, they belong to the seen-and-been-seen country club, they have all of the latest everything from clothes to cars to furniture, and they have the two most popular kids in high school, Jen Jones played by Amber Heard and Ben Jones played by Ben Hollingsworth. In essence, the Joneses have the perfect life.
The problem with perfect, however, is that perfect is impossible. No one and no family is perfect and that thankfully, that does not exclude the Joneses. The Joneses aren’t a real family; in fact, none of them are even related. Instead they are a marketing team hired by big companies to pose as a family whose real job is to secretly market products to their community. The Joneses single-handedly manipulate the market by determining what products are considered trendy and a “must-have” in their community based upon what companies are paying them to do so. They decide which products their neighbors are going to buy without them even knowing it. The family, or the “unit”, is given everything from new cars, to designer clothes, to expensive furniture to make them appear as the ultimate incarnation of the American Dream, the family that has everything.
Aside from showing off every label from Audi, to Juicy, to Gucci, “The Joneses” takes a critical look at the prominent role consumerism plays in modern American society. It definitely isn’t the first film to play with this theme but what makes this film worth seeing is that it creates an innovative and smart premise to continue a very relevant discussion. It questions the need to “buy, buy, buy” and the consequences of that mind set. Through the perspective of Steve Jones, the audience is not so subtly introduced to the film’s stance on this issue, simply that mass consumerism is harmful to individuals, families and society at large. At the emotional climax of the film, Steve is left trying to grapple with the realization that all the stuff he’s selling his neighbors doesn’t necessarily create a life of meaning.
“The Joneses” is worthy of your Friday night movie selection not only because it’s relevant and smart but because it’s also funny and well-acted. Demi Moore is well suited to play the familiar female lead that’s aggressive, smart, and alluring while David Duchovny adds much-needed laughs and lightness that sets this film apart from its purely satirical brethren. Duchovny’s excellent sense of timing and delivery bring this movie from the “I’ll wait until it comes out on DVD” category to within spitting distance of last year’s critically acclaimed “Up In the Air”. Duchovny is no Clooney and “The Joneses” is no “Up In the Air” but the movie successfully discusses similar themes in a equally smart manner and with a cast that’s equally on top of their game. Director and writer Derrick Borte accomplishes what so few movies do -pairing an original and thoughtful premise with great writing that’s accessible and entertaining. “The Joneses” is Zeitgeist diet for those moviegoers that want a smart movie that’s still entertaining and that’s light enough to not put you off socializing afterwards. “The Joneses” opens this weekend and is definitely worthy as your weekend movie picks.
“The Joneses” opens in theatres Friday April 16.
Watch "Demi, Duchovny: keeping up with the Joneses"
Story by Nicole Bagood
Starpulse contributing writer