Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Movie Review: The Joneses (2009)

If writer/director Derrick Borte's cinematic debut The Joneses gets by at all it's certainly not because the plot was particularly gripping or well played out. But when it does succeed it's because the telescopic nature of the details of the universe starts at an extreme close up which then slowly retracts until the entire picture is revealed.
Well, that and I'll pretty much watch anything starring David Duchovny.
The Joneses chronicles the arrival of the titular family in a upper crust neighborhood. In short order, parents Steve (Duchovney) and Kate (Demi Moore) along with their children Kate (Amber Heard) and Mick (Ben Hollingsworth) have infiltrated every strata of their new surroundings. It's not long before the entire community is playing out a live action version of the ancient platitude as they attempt to keep up with novel family. The Joneses wear designer everything and every part of their life can be had for a price, which is usually a lot.
The reason for their arrival becomes apparent when walking power suit KC (Lauren Hutton) shows up for a family meeting. KC sits the Joneses down and explains how much of a bump in sales each member of the family has driven for their particular demographic. You see, the Joneses have been placed here strategically for one purpose and one purpose only: to sell high end products and start trends in their upper class community. (We're led to believe that this is only one of thousands of such four-person units stationed all over the globe.) The members of the "family" aren't a family at all and have only been assigned their current roles. Trouble begins to brew when Mick can't hide the fact any longer that he's actually gay and not particularly well suited to the straight American teenager role he's been assigned. Also, Steve is new to the "family" and not yet adjusted to the current "family" he's been placed in. Added to that, Larry Symonds (Gary Cole) has begun to suspect something is off about his new neighbors.
The premise is genius and works because it feels so plausible. (I've always wondered who sits down and decides what will and won't be popular this year. It makes no sense.) This idea is the engine that drives the movie along until it runs out of gas and coasts slowly downhill towards the finish line somewhere around the middle of the second act. This means that there's really no compelling reason why its even the 96 minutes long it takes to play out.
It's easy to see how in another reality this would have made an amazing short story.

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