Blu-Ray Review: ‘The Joneses’ Has Charming Cast, Clever Premise

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CHICAGO – A well-cast comedy and a clever concept can help make screenwriting speed bumps much more tolerable. Take “The Joneses,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD. It has an undeniably interesting set-up and a very likable cast and those facts alone make it worth a rental. It’s disappointingly tooth-less and somewhat predictable, but the film’s flaws are easy to overlook. Blu-Ray Rating: 3.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.0/5.0

We’re making a match of great products with the people who want them.” So says Steve Jones (David Duchovny), the patriarch of the titular family who has just moved into a very upscale new neighborhood. It turns out that Steve and his beautiful family — including wife Kate (Demi Moore), daughter Jenn (Amber Heard), and son Mick (Ben Hollingsworth) — are living a fake life. They aren’t really even a family. But they pretend to be to the rest of their new friends and neighbors. Why? To sell them products.

The Joneses was released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 10th, 2010
The Joneses was released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 10th, 2010
Photo credit: Fox

What better advertising tool is there than jealousy? We all want to “keep up with the Joneses.” And so Steve, Kate, Jenna, and Mick spend their days and nights pitching products merely by showing them off. Whip out the fancy new phone at the salon. Drive an expensive new car around town. Show your friends the newest video games. They are walking, talking suburban salesmen.

The Joneses was released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 10th, 2010
The Joneses was released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 10th, 2010
Photo credit: Fox

Duchovny and Moore are charming and very good in “The Joneses.” They are perfect for the roles. Who wouldn’t want to emulate their seemingly perfect lives? It’s not hard to predict that the fake relationship will eventually blossom into real love but they make it believable. Heard and Hollingsworth are good but their characters feel a bit like afterthoughts. They are given manipulative plotlines mostly about problems related to love but neither role really resonates.

As for the entire arc of the film, it hits a few too many predictable notes. Obviously, the crisis of conscience that comes with not only pretending to be a family when you’re really a bunch of actors but doing so to promote crass commercialism will lead to a few problems. Even the arc of a neighbor (Gary Cole) brought to his breaking point by his desire to “keep up” deals predictable and a bit false.

I wished that “The Joneses” had the same kind of dark comedic edge of the recent television programs of which it feels the most familiar — suburban comedies like “Weeds” and “The Riches.” It’s a film with some great ideas that should have been a very clever black comedy instead of merely a relatively charming gray one.

Fox has excelled lately in the HD transfer department and “The Joneses” is no exception. The picture looks great and the audio is similarly above par. I’m very happy to see the consistency with which this studio has been turning out above-average HD releases on a technical level. Sadly, the same cannot be said about the special features. When “The Joneses” was barely released in theaters and couldn’t even scrape its way to $2 million domestically at the box office, Fox probably figured they would just shuffle it off to the home market, but I expect most people who rent the film will be surprised at its relative quality and they deserve more than a series of lame deleted scenes.

“The Joneses” stars David Duchovny, Demi Moore, Amber Heard, Ben Hollingsworth, Glenne Headly, Gary Cole, and Lauren Hutton. It was written and directed by Derrick Borte. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 10th, 2010. It is rated R and runs 96 minutes. content director Brian Tallerico

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