Sunday, 5 September 2010

No.56 : The Joneses

You have of course heard of the expression ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ well now you can watch the film version. What next? ‘Pot Calling the Kettle Black : The Smackdown’?

The film’s slight premise makes it almost as disposable as the consumerism message but if you like beautiful people showing off with a hit of morality to sweeten the deal ‘The Joneses’ may just be the thing for you.

The film opens with a yuppie couple, David Duchovny and Demi Moore, arriving at their new home with their two kids. Their house is swanky and their cars are delivered on a trailer. Their house has no expense spared with every gadget and aspirational gadget you could wish for. So far so American dream, but all is not as it seems.

The family are actually a group of actors who are placed in affluent communities to show off all the gadgets and accessories that people don’t realise they actually want or really need. It starts off quite low key with a dinner party for the neighbours but pretty soon Demi is flashing the dessert packaging and David is waving his new golf clubs under his buddies’ noses.

As you would expect cracks start to show and the frankly quite communist message of ‘stuff isn’t everything’ starts to creep in. A promo for cheap booze goes wrong when a girl gets hurt drunk driving and the Jones boy gets a slap for trying to kiss his jock buddy. The slutty daughter gets undone when her romance sours and the inevitable sexual tension between the two leads boils over.

Meanwhile the neighbours are buying all the crap they can to keep up with the Joneses and soon the debts start to build. As we reach the tragic climax our materialistic heroes have to winder if love can find a way and whether they can give up that frankly very nice Audi.

‘The Joneses’ is an OK sort of film but I bet those who enjoy it most will be the same people who run out to buy the earrings that Demi flaunts. People like nice stuff and although the anti-greed message is sledge hammered home you are still left wondering where David got that nice running top.

The two leads do quite well and although there isn’t a lot of chemistry between them that’s kind of the point. That is undone somewhat in the last ten minutes when you are expected to believe that they actually are in love and giving it all up for a chance of happiness.

Of the second string I liked Bill Lumbergh as the neighbour with the demanding wife. His desperation was a good counter point to the vapid lead characters although he could do with a bit of training on how to ride that lawn mower.

The central premise of the film that corporations put families in communities to sell their products seemed a bit flawed with their reach and cost seemingly untenable. I know people will tell you that it’s a parable and a commentary on our consumer society but you think Audi would sell more cars by, well, putting them in a movie where everyone says ‘That’s a nice car’ a lot.

The message is somewhat lost amid all the product placement but overall the film is worth a look but maybe only as a late night TV fix. Don’t go buying the DVD - that’s what they want you to do!

THE Tag Line : Needs a Hard Sell 61%

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