Rated R for language, some sexual content, teen drinking and drug use, 96 minutes
"The Joneses": original premise, unsatisfying execution
"The Joneses" is one of the most original films I've seen this year and could easily be the basis of a TV series on Showtime or HBO. It has a lovely cast, some cool products (and one amazing Audi sportscar) and a flat, predictable story that will leave you unsatisfied in the end. Mildly enjoyable but largely vacuous, you may not want to keep up with these Joneses.
Kate (Demi Moore) and Steve (David Duchovny) head a picture-perfect family that also includes Jenn (Amber Heard) and Mick (Ben Hollingsworth). They move into a luxurious new home in the suburbs, across the street from Summer (Glenne Headly) and Larry (Gary Cole), a nice but insecure couple. Kate and Steve have all the latest toys, gadgets and products that have them the envy of the neighborhood and their schools. Except that is the job that Kate and Steve have with their fake "family" unit. They really work for a marketing company designed to introduce luxury products to neighborhoods across the U.S., using undercover marketing techniques. Things go awry when the truth behind their presence is slowly unraveled.
"The Joneses" is a novel, even engaging premise that works best in its initial chapters. The job these Joneses have is a cross between multi-level marketing at its worst with some witness protection program thrown in for good measure. It works well initially because these unsympathetically drawn characters know who know their job: salesperson. I liked especially that it is Moore who is the "boss" and Duchovny who reports to her, not to mention that they don't even know each other's last names.
But "The Joneses" loses steam midway through when the characters start caring more about each other than their real purpose, and things turn much too predictable (Duchovny's character in particular is too much of a softy). A couple of badly integrated subplots involving the two children don't work, either, in particular the one with Heard. Moore and Duchovny both give serviceable performances, and watch for Lauren Hutton in a small role as their overly ambitious boss. Hutton has never been a strong actress, but she's fun to watch, and also proves she's one of cinema's prettiest ugly women (a title she shares with Jamie Lee Curtis).
In the end, keeping up with these Joneses proves too unsatisfying, and it left me with little in spite of a different premise that's likely better suited for the small screen. Filled with loads of nifty gadgets, products and lovely people, "The Joneses" is all style and little depth.