Money can’t buy happiness. There you have it; now you don’t need to watch The Joneses.
There are only so many themes a movie can tackle, so I can’t blame the makers of this David Duchovny-Demi Moore vehicle for adopting a “thou shall not covet” motif, but what you hope for is a fresh spin on an old subject. Unhappily, if I had to describe The Joneses in one word, that word would be “flat.”
The movie wants to be a biting satire on shallow consumerism, a paean to old-fashioned values. Its plot hook must have seemed clever at some point: A “perfect” family, the Joneses, infiltrates super-rich neighborhoods and proceeds to leverage envy as a means to sell products. The twist is that this so-called family is bogus — just another product manufactured by corporate America.
But the film falls flat because there are no sympathetic characters. Duchovny and Moore give it their best shot, but their characters as written are not relatable. Duchovny is robotic and soft, a benevolent ball of smudge. Moore’s wife/boss, I suppose, represents the fallacy of feminism’s “you can have it all” mentality. But spare me any modern-woman twaddle about Moore’s character; a bitch is a bitch is a bitch.
Predictably, the fake-family act begins to unravel for the Joneses in the film’s final act, but by then, who cares? Even Duchovny’s Big Speech to the neighborhood falls flat, and the movie’s ending feels tacked on. Money might not buy happiness, but it can certainly rent you a better movie than The Joneses. Grade: C-
Director: Derrick Borte Cast: Demi Moore, David Duchovny, Amber Heard, Ben Hollingsworth, Gary Cole, Glenne Headly, Lauren Hutton Release: 2009
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