Tuesday 27 April 2010

The Joneses: Life in a material world

Since the fifties, the key to suburban living has been keeping up with the Joneses. But just who, exactly, are the Joneses? I can’t say without giving the game away, so look away if you want to be surprised by the plot.

The Joneses are, in fact, way ahead of anything you will ever be. Mrs Jones is Demi Moore, heading up an ideal designer family along with David Duchovny, retired car salesman and failed golf pro, her “’enery the eighth” style ’usband.

Are they too good to be true? You betcha. These real people are living profoundly fake lives — but is it catching? The Joneses are in fact a marketing “unit,” seeded into the poshest of the ’burbs to live out a perfect life style, sowing envy and triggering sales left right and centre. As they work their way through their community’s various sociological subgroups like a toxic computer worm, they are monitored by a sinister Blonde Controller played with coonsummate believability by Catherine Dyer.

The family that gels together sells together. As the good times roll, suburban living becomes a manic Tupperware party on Steroids, saes stats mount on wings of eagles. Human nature will out, however, including the propensity of youngsters, and others, to place their affections where true joys cannot be found. Will the real people win through in the end?

The butt of the joke, which is wry than bellylaugh, is materialism. As the Truman Show and Pleasantville did before it, Derrick Borte’s film deconstructs a whole lifestyle, and raises the most basic question of all — “who’s fooling who?” The wrong aspirations lead to one of the most visually stunning lethal swimming pool shots since the opening of Sunset Boulevard.

Not everything clicks 100% all the time, but enough clicks enough of the time to keep ann audience logged on, and make this a very good, if not a great film. It works on pretty much all levels, narrative, character, place and pace. The Joneses is a great discussion starter that may not make you drop everything and get thee to a nunnery, but if it saves you entirely maxing out your Visa on Louis Vuitton bags and Audis, you’ll be glad you saw it. Four out of five.


Anonymous said...

"the wrong aspirations lead to....." So what are the "right" aspirations?


Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Good question we each have to answer for ourselves. I'd say aspiring to "Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God." If as much effort went into building a lifestyle based on that as selfishness and ego, we could handle it.

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