As its generic name of the family that Americans strive to keep up with, "The Joneses" is an insightful, if not especially scathing, satire from debut director/co-writer Derrick Borte about consumerist manipulation. An upscale gated suburb--where the average income is "over $100,000,"--is the hunting ground for a manufactured family of product-placement experts whose every possession is a planted item with which they subversively taunt their unsuspecting neighbors. Steve (David Duchovny) and Kate Jones (Demi Moore) are phony parents to surrogate teen children Jenn (Amber Heard) and Mick (Ben Hollingsworth). Monthly meetings with their ominous "unit" leader KC (Lauren Hutton) inspires the group to get their sales numbers up. When she isn't exposing her well-connected stylist to hair products that only she knows about, Kate shows off her plush sweats around the tiny suburb. On the local golf course ex-used car salesman Steve takes lessons from a young pro shop clerk in an effective gambit at quietly influencing sales of a new line of golf clubs. Before long the unit's impact on the community is being felt, most effectively by their suggestible neighbor Larry (Gary Cole) whose ambitious attempts to keep up with the Joneses inevitably lead to foreclosure proceedings. As a meta-message movie about America's pre-financial meltdown state of insatiable greed, "The Joneses" is a superfluous footnote whose relevance to our economic depression has already passed.
Rated R. 93 mins. (B-) (Three Stars - out of five/no halves)
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