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:|