David Duchovny, Demi Moore, Amber Heard, Gary Cole, Chris Williams, Glenne Headly, Lauren Hutton
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
The Jones family is perfect.
Steve (David Duchovny), the father, is stylishly dressed with a penchant for cars, golf and his impossibly adorable family that includes wife Kate (Demi Moore) and high schoolers Jenn (Amber Heard) and Mick (Ben Hollingsworth). When this seemingly idyllic family moves into what would best be described as a mansion in an unnamed high-brow city, they don't just fit in...they practically re-define the town as its very own.
The only hitch? The Jones family isn't you're everyday ordinary family. They're...
Well, you'll just have to see for yourself.
Written and directed by Derrick Borte, The Joneses is a surprisingly funny and biting family drama/social commentary/dark satire in which greed, materialism, narcissism and the whole idea of "keeping up with the Joneses" is skewered with vicious delight wrapped neatly by this Abercrombie quartet of fashionably clad self-promoters with a hidden agenda that turns this town upside down before turning the family upside down when one neighbor's efforts to, indeed, keep up with the Jones family ends up in tragedy.
The Joneses is notable for a few basic reasons.
First, the film features Demi Moore's best performance in years as a greedy, upwardly mobile yet faintly human whose spa splurges trigger spending urges by nearly anyone unfortunate enough to be in her path. Moore's Kate sort of brings to mind Donna Reed meets Gordon Gekko, a unique fusion of heart versus heartlessness that is completely sold by Moore even when the script, especially in the film's final third, ultimately lets her down.
Secondly, The Joneses proves that David Duchovny can act and does, in fact, have emotions. While this may sound like a subtle jab (it is), it's much more a statement about the actor's seemingly innate ability to choose nondescript, intellectual characters without an iota of an emotional core. In The Joneses, however, Duchovny's Steve has a core of humanity that seems uncomfortably out of place in this fashionably assembled family of choice.
Finally, as the neighbor who can't quite keep up with the Joneses, Gary Cole adds to his long career of adding unimagined depth to thinly sketched characters by creating a vivid picture of a man whose seemingly ideal love is anything but ideal and whose inability to simply "be" ultimately sends everything and everyone around him into a downward spiral.
Within the first few minutes of The Joneses you will likely have caught on to this family's not so hidden secrets, but until the film's third act writer/director Derrick Borte manages to keep the film moving along at an entertaining and energetic pace. It is only when the inevitable dynamics of living together as family start to penetrate the facade that the film itself starts to disintegrate as quickly as does this family unit. Ultimately, it seems like just when The Joneses should be taking its giant leap into dark satire Borte pulls the reins back and allows the film to fold into a neatly piled stack of family drama and dynamics.
Despite its not so satisfying resolution, The Joneses is 2010's first comedy that both stimulates intellectually and elicits laughs. Featuring a refreshingly relaxed and natural performance from Demi Moore, grounded performances from both Duchovny and Cole plus solid supporting turns from Amber Heard and Glenne Headly, keeping up with The Joneses is both affordable and rewarding.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic