Movie Review: The Joneses Have Got What You Want

The Joneses are your typical, beautiful, rich, American suburban family that all get along and have all the coolest things. Okay, so that’s not so typical, they seem to sweat perfection, and that’s because it’s all a marketing scheme. The family is fake. There, the cat’s out of the bag. I am warning that this review will most likely have spoilers in it.

The part that I was trying to figure out about this film was: is this a story about a group of people posing as a family for marketing purposes, or is this a film created for marketing purposes? Five minutes into the film I felt myself wanting the Benz in the driveway, the Ethan Allen table in the dining room or the long necklace that Demi Moore was wearing. We used to be so careful to turn the labels of bottles or food so as not to seem like we were advertising in film, this film just blew that rule to kingdom come. Every few minutes, we were introduced to a new set of golf clubs, or the latest running shoes, latest shade of lipstick or what new skateboard had just been invented. If this movie was just to give us a show of people being schemed into wanting things, I think it went both ways.

The story focused on the Joneses’ immediate neighbors as the average Americans who measure their success by the amount of crap that they own. As the movie weighs on, we start to see the impact of those hefty prices adding up in bills and depression. This film started to take a turn toward a zeitgeist when it turned the tables and forced us to take a hard look at ourselves and what we are willing to sacrifice for material happiness. I couldn’t help but think of all the millions of home foreclosures in the last year and what they might have sacrificed because an ad was so tempting or fitting in was such a life or death feeling to them.

The Joneses were a fake family and their job was to make things look good, fun and appetizing. What they are doing is really no different than looking at a JC Penney ad of girls in clothes having so much fun, or a family enjoying their new poolside outdoor furniture with matching plates and cups. What you have to wonder is: Is this where marketing is headed next?

As for the quality of the film, well I liked it. What I liked most about it was the theme that provoked so much thought afterward. David Duchovny plays Steve Jones, and Demi Moore plays Kate Jones and they have great chemistry. They have two fake teenage kids played by Amber Heard and Ben Hollingsworth. Together, “this family is fucked up,” as Steve says. The two are married in public, but complete strangers in private. The son is battling with sexuality and the daughter is a bit of a slut. The part I really found unbelievable is that no one questioned what they did for a living, or where all the money is coming from. However, with all of the brands spotted in this movie, it was surprising to see the Joneses drink from the same glasses that I own, which came from Wal-Mart. In the beginning, I thought that this would be the coolest job ever. Living in the lap of luxury, never having to work, except to secretly convince your friends that they need what you have and always looking fabulous. However, as time passed, they also saw the dark side of their jobs. They had sincerely become friends with their neighbors and to see it all get washed away was heartbreaking, especially when it was all their fault.

This is a story of the grass always being greener on the other side, and by the end, I had the feeling that this was more of a message to people than an ad. The message being that love can fill any hole you have. There will always be wanting of things we don’t need. The problem really comes down to the marketing. If it was as simple as turning off the TV and then no more ads, people wouldn’t be in such predicaments. However, ads have moved onto cereal boxes for kids to stare at for breakfast, they’ve infiltrated movies, and they have even managed to bug us on the internet now. The story of the Joneses represented what is wrong with America now. When we say we want the American dream, we don’t imagine it coming with the inflation prices and ballooning mortgages that we end up with. In the end, the American dream stopped over twenty years ago, and unless we can stop our addiction to excess, we will never have the American dream again.

I give The Joneses 3 “the grass is always greener on the other side” out of 5

by Angela Davis

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