The Joneses

Film
2 out of 5 stars
The Joneses

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

As consumers become hyperaware of—and more immune to—advertising’s effects, the stealth-marketing industry has developed some truly sinister ways to control how we spend our hard-earned wages. That’s the thesis of cowriter-director Derrick Borte’s depressing satire, which tracks the titular clan that demands to be kept up with after moving into a McMansion community. The setup is brilliant, even if it doesn’t play out so cleverly: The Joneses aren’t an actual family, but a sleeper cell of ambitious marketeers hired by a mysterious corporation—the golf nut “dad” (Duchovny) being the most recent recruit. All of the family members are silver-tongued Type A’s: the fake high-schooler daughter (Heard) imploring her peers to buy the latest cosmetics and diet pills; the son (Ben Hollingsworth) hawking tech gadgets and video games; and Mom (Moore) working her housewife ripple-effect integration at the salon.

The spot-on cast almost holds the movie together, but whatever potential this timely premise has is wasted on reworking the same gag about overconsumption. Once romance gets in the way of business and one of the conniving Joneses suddenly finds their humanity, it’s only a matter of time before everything implodes. More discomforting is that real Audis and Dell computers show up among the fake luxuries, which means the joke’s really on us: Product placement strikes again!—Aaron Hillis

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