Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Joneses- She said

Everyone knew “that” family growing up. They always seem to have the latest and greatest gadgets, clothes, and cars. Everyone knew them, and everyone wanted to be them. In Derrik Borte’s film, The Joneses, the Joneses are that family. Their quintessential life is envied by their neighborhood. The parents, Kate and Steve, have the perfect, loving marriage. Their kids, Jen and Mick, are respectable, charming, and gorgeous. However, once they’re hidden in their million dollar home, everything changes.

You see, the Joneses have a job. They’re a unit working for a lifestyle corporation. They have the latest and greatest electronics, clothes, beauty products, sports equipment, furniture…everything because they want to sell it to you. Everything they own is for sale. They ingrain themselves in the upper-class suburbanite culture and essentially “sell” these families their high-quality lifestyle. For while, sales are up for the unit. Then, like every family, either real or imaginary, real life catches up with them.

The movie is really well made, and I thought it would take most of the movie to figure out what the family’s secret was, but their job is revealed within the first 20 minutes. This gives ample time to develop the characters and their dynamic relationships with each other. Demi Moore and David Duchovny are standouts as Kate and Steve. Even though they’re there to do a job, their underlying sexual tension is ever so present and gets in the way. Kate is clearly the dominate, pants-wearing one in this family unit, and she always keeps giving Steve “tips” to help his sales. Even though she tries not to emasculate him, you can see his manhood shrink just a bit every time she talks to him, but he seems to take to it and to her.

The film is a great commentary on consumerism in suburban America. It manages to comment on today’s social and economic hardships without even mentioning the present day bad economy. These people are just trying to keep up with the Joneses without any real regards to their finances.

The concept of this movie is fascinating. The idea that they’re family units out there trying to get you to buy their lifestyle is brilliant. Usually the reason you might not buy something from a normal salesperson is either they’re too pushy or not personable. What a great idea to be submerged in a culture where your customers get to know you, trust you, and hang on your every word.

My only problem with the film is the story wraps up a little too neat and lovely-dovey for my taste. Overall though, the movie brings up some interesting conversation topics of consumerism and suburban life. See this with your intellectual friends and have interesting, debate-filled conversations afterwards.

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