The Joneses (tbc)

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The ViewDunedin Review

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Review byMatthew Turner22/04/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 96 mins

Hugely enjoyable and cleverly written, this is an impressively directed, thought-provoking comedy-drama with a pair of pitch-perfect performances from David Duchovny and Demi Moore.

What's it all about?
It's impossible to discuss this film without giving away a key plot point, so if you want to go in cold, please stop reading now. Written and directed by first-timer Derrick Borte (who, tellingly, used to work in advertising), The Joneses stars David Duchovny and Demi Moore as Steve and Kate Jones, a seemingly perfect couple who move into a posh suburban neighbourhood with their seemingly perfect teenage kids Jenn (Amber Heard) and Mick (Ben Hollingsworth) and set about befriending their neighbours. However, it quickly transpires that all four family members are actually employed as professional trendsetters, whose job it is to show off all the latest products.

As first-timer Steve adjusts to his new lifestyle, he struggles with developing feelings for his fake wife, who is essentially his boss. Unfortunately, his problems don't end there – Jenn is something of a handful and Mick has a secret of his own.

The Good
David Duchovny and Demi Moore are perfectly cast as the too-gorgeous-to-be-true Joneses and they have an appealingly sparky chemistry together that works well. Heard and Hollingsworth are both rather side-lined by comparison, but they each have strong scenes and there's terrific support from both Glenne Headly and the always-excellent Gary Cole as their envious neighbours.

The intelligent script crackles with witty dialogue and there are several great scenes – it's a shame the trailers (and, to be fair, the reviews) are forced to give away the premise, because the reveal scene is brilliantly done. As such, the premise is extremely intriguing and will give you serious pause for thought, though the film works just as well as an unconventional family drama as it does as a sharp satire on consumer society.

The Bad
The only real problem with the film is that it lacks the courage to go for a darker ending. Similarly, there's a plot point involving “icon” status that seems to get forgotten in the final reel, though these are minor quibbles at best.

Worth seeing?
The Joneses is a hugely enjoyable comedy drama with a brilliant script and terrific performances from Duchovny and Moore. Highly recommended.

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