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May 27, 2010

Fletch's Film Review: The Joneses

The writers of The Joneses probably thought they were making a biting satire™ about consumerism. To a point, they are. But what they really ended up with was a meta-satire.

Meta-satires are all the rage these days. Think Kick-Ass or Adaptation or Team America: World Police. It's not nearly enough to merely lambaste something anymore; you have to become that which you are ridiculing. The Joneses starts off with a terrific premise: marketing has become so infused in our lifestyles that a corporation has set out to literally market lifestyles. An alpha family (unit) is deployed into a neighborhood and plays house like a real family, all under the guise of selling the hot new clothes, gadgets, sporting goods, etc., to the unknowing consumers amongst them. They are, to borrow from Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, Mavens, Connectors, and Salespeople all, each one targeted to a specific demographic. They are selling "cool," and making a killing doing so.

It's a great premise, one perfect for our increasingly materialistic world. The problems come in once you get past the setup. The story paints itself into a corner, but more importantly, the longer you watch, the more you realize that in trying to make a comment about consumerism, the film becomes a slave to it. I wasn't just being sold a movie ticket, I was simultaneously being sold the same products that the Joneses are attempting to pawn off on their neighbors. The latest golf clubs, an auto-opening toilet, a vast array of Audis - I wasn't familiar with the frozen food chefs that were name-checked in the movie, but it wouldn't shock me to learn that they were real as well.

Were the film meant to be self-satirizing, that would be one thing. But I don't believe that's the case, and if it is, then the tone and plot of the latter two-thirds sold the concept short, deteriorating instead to a formulaic, feel-good ending. Kinda takes away some of that bite, no?

Fletch's Film Rating:
"You seem a decent fellow...I hate to kill you."
Shaky Cam Rating (details):LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie BlogsLarge Association of Movie Blogs

6 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: The Joneses"

blake said...

Good call. I think I may have liked this just a bit more than you, but found it disappointing for the same reasons. It just couldn't follow through.

Stephen Dooling said...

Materialism is really bad. Nothing lasts, therefore you gotta invest on something that money can't buy. Like being happy and making others happy. Like this Get Him to the Greek it's totally awesome and hilarious movie. I can't believe Russell Brand,Diddy,Jonah Hill and the team GHttG will rock my world. Hhahahha.

Kaiderman said...

Bummer... I heard such good things for this before it came out and have heard nothing good about it since it hit the big screen. Shame cuz it is a great premise.
Guess I'll stick to Dawn of the Dead for my commentary on Consumerism!

Fletch said...

Stephen - that's one of the best spammy marketing tie-ins to a comment I've seen yet. Congrats!

Kai - It's far from terrible - no movie with a healthy dose of Gary Cole could be - it's just a letdown. Meanwhile, I'll stick to Fight club for my anti-consumerist tirades. :)

Kaiderman said...

My favorite film and I didn't even think about it... Kudos, sir!

Fitz said...

Duchovny and Cole are always worth a watch.