A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this worthy satire pokes fun at materialism while making it look very tantalizing in the process (thanks to a load of product placement throughout the film). One of the teen girl characters is sexually intimate with at least two older men, and we see her breasts briefly and hear sexual sounds, though no activity appears onscreen. A teen boy kisses another boy before being rebuffed. Teens drink alcohol and drive drunk. There’s some pot-smoking and diet pill-popping, along with a good amount of swearing ("f--k" and "bitch"). Yet the movie has the potential to start some meaningful discussions about materialism and how products are sold to consumers.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
They’ve just moved in, and yet it’s already hard to keep up with the Joneses. First, they’re gorgeous. Steve (David Duchovny) is witty and wired with all the latest gadgets, and has a mean golf swing. Kate (Demi Moore) looks half her age, hosts a mean dinner party, and keeps a beautiful home filled with covetable things. Their kids (Amber Heard and Ben Hollingsworth) are stylish and instantly popular at the high school. It’s no surprise then that their next-door neighbors, Larry (Gary Cole) and Summer (Glenne Headly), want to be them. Little do they know, however, that the Joneses are picture-perfect for a reason, and that reason strikes at the heart of every American consumer. They have products to sell, and their role is to make their neighbors buy them.
Is it any good?
How wonderful it is to fall in love with David Duchovny once more; THE JONESES gives him another chance to dazzle with his dry wit and observational stance. As Steve, he leads the audience in this satirical journey into the heart and soul(lessness) of abject consumerism. (Moore is a revelation, too. Finally, she has a part that doesn’t just trade on her looks, even though appearances matter much here.) It’s mostly successful; first-time director Derrick Borte handles the enterprise assuredly, and the supporting cast, especially Cole, adds layers to what could have been a superficial indictment of materialism and advertising. We are living in a material world, indeed.
Nevertheless, a shift in tone near the end, though adding gravity to the proceedings, diminishes the cheeky glee that earlier gives the film such lift. (Think Ocean’s 11.) The Joneses has a message, we understand that, but in making sure it gets delivered, it loses its verve. Must a movie become self-serious in order to make its very true, and very important, point?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the marketing tactic that the Joneses employ: Is it believable? Is it, in fact, happening now to a certain extent?
What is marketing, and how does it work in everyday life? What makes consumers want to buy what they do?
What are the consequences of overspending? What is its allure considering how destructive it can be?