DVD: The Joneses (15)

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The Independent Culture

David Duchovny and Demi Moore are Steve and Kate, a happy, shiny, all-American couple with their perfect teenage children, Jenn and Mick, with their bright white teeth, trim physiques and the very latest luxurious (clothes, cars, clothes) products.

But, as Talking Heads once pointed out, "This is not my beautiful house" and "This is not my beautiful wife". Their pristine lifestyle is a sham. They're not married, the children aren't theirs and neither are their possessions. They're salespeople for a stealth-marketing company whose purpose is to plug "their" wares to everyone in town. Their next-door neighbours (Gary Cole and Glenne Headly) drool over their house and car, the girls at Jenn's high school copy her taste in trainers and make-up and the boys purchase Mick's video games. However, cracks (a sex-crazed Jenn, a secretly gay Mick, a disillusioned Steve) soon start to appear in the ideal family set up.

It's a terrific idea for a satire and, in the right hands (Peter Weir's perhaps?), The Joneses could have had the bite, wit and intelligence of, say, The Truman Show. But the plot feels too disjointed and the film lacks the courage to be memorably dark and disquieting. However, Gary Cole is (as always) thoroughly compelling as the desperately miserable neighbour trying fruitlessly to keep up with the Joneses. And The Joneses would make an excellent HBO TV series.

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