Friday, April 16, 2010

Movie with Abe: The Joneses

The Joneses
Directed by Derrick Borte
Released April 16, 2010

There’s something not quite right about the Joneses, the new family that moves into a home in an elite community. Besides their ominously standard surname, something about the way the family functions doesn’t add up. Their presence does not seem threatening or dangerous, but rather out of place. It’s as if the danger posed to them were their secret revealed would be greater than whatever threat they themselves might realistically pose to anyone else. The Joneses are marvelously evocative of the Malloys on FX’s short-lived drama “The Riches,” where these people seem like they want to fit in but will never quite be able to, no matter how hard they try.

The situation isn’t nearly as serious as that of the Malloys, however. The Joneses are merely salespeople whose lifestyle is their occupation. They religiously sport clothing and products in an effort to get those around them to become envious and purchase the items themselves. Their presence as a family unit is just a cover, and Mrs. Jones (Demi Moore) has had many fake husbands in her time with the company. Mr. Jones (David Duchovny), however, is on his first assignment, and he may be too friendly and caring to achieve number one salesperson status in the cutthroat organization. The “kids” (Amber Heard and Ben Hollingsworth) have their own vices, but as a whole, the family functions extraordinarily well.

The premise is cool, and the product placement is not intrusive. It’s exciting and fun to see how they subtly sell their lives to the people around them. The incorporation of products provides an excellent and smooth balance between comedy and drama. Even when things seem like they’re going great, there is still a foreboding air reminiscent of the mood in “A Serious Man.” The plot twists, which are for the most part fairly conventional, still work because they are executed in a proper and intriguing manner.

The acting is equally impressive on all counts. Duchovny always seems to play the same role, that of the flirtatious alpha male who actually has a good heart, but it’s what he knows and does best, so his casting here is perfect. Moore does a terrific job of chewing scenery and chewing out her fake husband, attracting the admiration of all the men and women around her in the process. Character actor Gary Cole stands out as a neighbor who quickly disobeys the commandment about coveting your neighbor’s goods. Like the mysterious family that shows up on the street and takes the community by storm, this film starts out shrouded in mystery and proceeds along as an enjoyable and mesmerizing experience.


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