The Joneses, a seemingly perfect family, are the envy of their posh, suburban neighborhood filled with all the trappings of the upper middle class. They are the ultimate trend setters with an endless supply of high-tech toys, designer clothes, fast cars and the latest gadgets. But as the neighbors try to keep up with the Joneses, none are prepared for the truth about this all too perfect family.
Built around a brilliant idea, Derrick Borte's debut plays like The Truman Show
in reverse. Whereas Jim Carrey's Truman had no idea his life provided fodder for a TV show, the upper-crust enclave that welcomes the Joneses has no idea they're a marketing unit in disguise. One day, Steve (David Duchovny, more Californication
than The X-Files
) and Kate (Demi Moore, whose businesslike demeanor serves the premise well) arrive with teenagers Jenn (Amber Heard) and Mick (Ben Hollingsworth) and a moving van full of luxury goods. Attractive and charismatic, they inspire everyone they meet to purchase the same sportswear, golf clubs, and gourmet foods (Lauren Hutton plays their supervisor). They make the biggest impression on Larry (Gary Cole) and Summer (Glenne Headly), whose marriage has hit a rough patch. Steve advises his new golf partner to buy his wife expensive presents. Larry takes his advice--and then some--in an attempt to keep up with the Joneses, who find it difficult to maintain the Stepford
-like façade when Jenn gets involved with a married man and Steve falls for his make-believe wife. Until that point, the cast sells the concept with conviction, but then the story heads off in two directions at once. Duchovny and Moore lack the heat to bring the romance to a full boil, while the neighbors aren't sufficiently developed for their fate to have the intended impact. If it ends with more of a fizzle than a bang, The Joneses
still posits a scenario that feels frightfully plausible. --Kathleen C. Fennessy