The Joneses - Blu-ray Review

'a fairly ambitious and praise-worthy film, with a hollow and bitter aftertaste'

The directorial debut of Derrick Borte, The Joneses is one-part suburban indie drama and one-part Hollywood romantic comedy, a mixture which the German-born director balances with admirable skill for the most part. With two likable stars in Demi Moore and David Duchovny, there's initially a lot to like about the story of a fake 'family' who are really part of a covert marketing organisation, attempting to convince neighbours to buy the goods that they own.

It's obvious that Borte, who also wrote the screenplay, didn't want to tell a mere conventional story on the evils of consumerism and the coming together of a 'family', a fact reflected both in the darker turns of the script and his character decisions. Playing significantly and consciously with gender roles, the females of the Jones family (Moore and Amber Heard) assert dominance in every way possible, from the workplace (Moore) to the bedroom (Heard, whose decision to go topless is a stand out miss-step), creating something which, whilst not quite an agenda, is at least a marked change to the Hollywood norm.

Problems creep in when Borte gets preachy, something which he seems only able to do through the modicum of neighbour, Larry (Gary Cole) and 'son', Mick (Ben Hollingsworth). Larry's plot arc is telegraphed from the beginning and follows a moral path so predictable that being in his company becomes a series of mundane developmental conversations that can only ever lead to one place. Whilst not quite as obvious, Mick's development is similarly unoriginal and again, leaves the character feeling more like a mouthpiece than a...well, than a character.

Duchovny too, struggles with the material and charming though he is, Steve Jones never feels more than a wet blanket, along for the ride with the more interesting Moore and Heard. A late all-encompassing speech from the aforementioned is particularly weakly delivered and represents the point when Borte gave up embedding his morals in the script and instead, got his lead man to espouse them ad nauseum. It's a slightly painful moment which leaves what is otherwise a fairly ambitious and praise-worthy film, with a hollow and bitter aftertaste.

Look further...

'as slick and polished as a perfume commercial directed by David Lynch' - Bitchin' Film Reviews, 3/4

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