THE JONESES (15) *** DIRECTED BY: DERRICK BORTE STARRING: DAVID DUCHOVNY, DEMI MOORE, AMBER HEARD, GARY COLE
BEFORE it sells out in the final act with an inappropriate rom-com-style ending that betrays the cold, cynical tone adopted during its first half, The Joneses is an intriguing and timely satire about the increasingly insidious ways consumer culture tries to keep us spending even when we can't afford it. Demi Moore and David Duchovny are well matched as the heads of the titular clan: an aesthetically perfect family with the kind of empty, flashy lifestyle that makes their monied neighbours green with envy. Here's the trick though: Kate (Moore), Steve (Duchovny), ultra-popular son Mick (Ben Hollingsworth) and hot daughter Jenn (Amber Heard) aren't really a family: they're a suburban cell of stealth marketeers employed by corporations to slyly, but ruthlessly, push products on their unsuspecting friends and neighbours. It's an inspired concept, and co-writer/director Derrick Borte gets plenty of mileage out of it by depicting how the never-satisfied suburban McMansion-dwellers who've bought into the consumer-driven American dream strive to keep up with the Joneses. But as romantic entanglements start to emerge, the film piles on some unnecessarily melodramatic plot twists as it lurches towards an unconvincing ending.