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DVD Review: The Joneses

August 10, 2010

The Joneses – A TVA Films’ Release

DVD Release Date: August 10th, 2010

Rated PG coarse language, sexual content, and substance abuse

Running time: 96 minutes

Derrick Borte (dir.)

Derrick Borte (writer)

Shibani Bathija (story)

Nick Urata (music)

David Duchovny as Steve Jones

Demi Moore as Kate Jones

Amber Heard as Jenn Jones

Ben Hollingsworth as Mick Jones

Gary Cole as Larry Symonds

Glenne Headly as Summer Symonds

Our reviews below:

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The Joneses DVD Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

Over the opening scenes of The Joneses, we see a rich family moving into suburbia.  The father Steve, (David Duchovny) spends his days at the golf course, while the mother, Kate (Demi Moore) makes regular visits to the beauty salon.  Their kids, Jenn and Mick (Amber Heard and Ben Hollingsworth) attend high school, immediately becoming the popular kids.

Throughout all this, we know something’s not right – it’s just too perfect.  The Joneses are actually a unit of salespeople, hired to play the part of a family.  They are paid by companies to use their products so that, mostly through jealousy, their neighbours will want to keep up with the new family on the block.

For the first part, there’s not nearly enough substance, but by the end, when the dark morals of this marketing world are brought into play, The Joneses becomes almost disturbing.  This is a dramedy that’s almost as dark as it is thought-provoking – so it won’t be for everybody – but the discussion it prompts is one worth having.  The small distribution might make The Joneses be seen as a slight effort, but it’s one of timely social relevance, that leaves you with a lot to think about.  As a movie it’s far from perfect, but certainly worth a look.

The DVD includes a job interview segment with both Duchovny and Moore, as well as an alternate scene and a needless extra one.

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The Joneses DVD Review By Erin V.

*** (Out of 4)

The Joneses is about a seemingly perfect family of four – Steve, Kate, Mic and Jen.  Except, they aren’t really a family.  They are each hired by the marketing firm Life Image to pose as a family, move into a rich neighbourhood and model various products, in order to coax their neighbours into buying things without knowing they are being pitched to.  The problem is, how far will someone else go to try to keep up – and what does it do to you to pretend that you live in a family, yet know it isn’t true.  Does this extreme kind of method acting cause you to start to act it and believe it?

We live in a dangerous society where we easily get hung up on consumerism and beating the next guy at the buying game.  Call it modern-day posturing if you will.  The question is, how far would you go to sell, sell, sell your products?

While the idea behind it is kind of disturbing, The Joneses is an interesting film, as well as an entertaining one.  It’s worth seeing and discussing later on what it means in terms of our society.

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The Joneses DVD Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

You’ve probably heard of “keeping up with the Joneses.”  This movie gives this expression a whole new meaning.  In this film, advertising giant Life Image hires people to live in a neighbourhood for a year, posing as fake families known as “cells.”  Steve, a newcomer to Life Image, is paired with three veteran actors.  He is cast as dad to Mick and Jenn, two “teenagers,”  as well as wife to Kate.  The pretend unit is known as the Jones family to unsuspecting neighbours who are sold various products.  But as time goes by, Steve begins to really fall in love with Kate.  The “teenagers” develop problems, and need to be “parented.”  As the “Jones family” stays in the neighbourhood, their presence affects the people around them, often in surprising ways.  When this results in a tragedy, Steve begins to rethink the whole “family” experiment.

The Joneses provides an interesting sociological study.  The acting is decent, and the story, while farfetched, is eerily believable.  If you are interested in ethics, marketing, sociology, or psychology, then The Joneses is a movie definitely worth watching.

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The Joneses DVD Review By Maureen

**3/4 (out of 4)

Most people have experienced neighbour envy at some point in their lives.  The drive to keep up with the Joneses can be powerful at times.  The Joneses starring Demi Moore and David Duchovny is an interesting drama about an extreme product placement corporation that plants fictitious family units in an upscale neighbourhood with the desired target demographics.

The fake family unit, called cells, consist of Mom Kate (Demi Moore), Dad Steve (David Duchovny), son Mick (Ben Hollingsworth), and daughter Jenn (Amber Heard), all with the same surname, Jones.  Their job is to blend in, use and showcase specific products, and ensure that sales of said products increase in the target neighbourhood over the course of a year.

Things get complicated and boundaries blurred when real life relationships and friendships are formed within and outside the corporate cell.  Life Image corporate head KC (Lauren Hutton) tries to rein in the cell but sometimes projects go too far and it’s too late to do damage control.

This is an interesting, thought-provoking movie about social experiments and marketing manipulation.  The acting is good and the storyline moves along at a reasonable pace.  Fans of the lead actors, or those interesting in marketing, psychology or social experiments will want to check out The Joneses on DVD.

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The Joneses DVD Review By Tony

**1/2 (out of 4)

The Joneses–Steve (David Duchovny), Kate (Demi Moore), and teenagers Jenn (Amber Heard) and Mick (Ben Hollingsworth) are moving into a wealthy gated community.  Everything about them seems too good to be true, because it isn’t.  In fact they are a stealth marketing unit (also known subversively as a cell) that without ever disclosing their motives will remain in one place for a year selling their lifestyle and all its expensive trappings, merely by example. Reporting to the ruthless manager KC (Lauren Hutton), Kate has been running units for a number of years, keeping everything on a professional (chaste) level with six previous fake husbands, but the feelings newcomer Steve has for her are hard to resist.  The kids have their own relationship issues.  Moreover, keeping up with the Joneses is great for business but can prove tragic for those neighbours who overextend themselves in an attempt to buy happiness.

It is an interesting question whether stealth marketing, typically involving attractive individuals showing off their latest apparel, toys or other lifestyle choices, has been extended to fake families, let alone throughout the world, as suggested during the closing credits.  Despite its good cast and a sharply written script, The Joneses is a sardonic, even disturbing satire that may not appeal to everyone.

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Consensus: The Joneses is an interesting, thought-provoking film about the dark side of marketing.  However it’s disturbing satiric undertones may not appeal to everyone. **3/4 (Out of 4)

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