Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Sep 20th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Four Marketeers

film_TheJonesesConsumerism runs amok in savvy satire 'The Joneses'
You know "the Joneses" that we're all supposed to be keeping up with? They actually exist in the eponymously named The Joneses, a sly and sharp black comedy from filmmaker Derrick Borte about consumerism and its consequences. Liberated from the prison of metaphor, they stride onto the screen intact, the coolest new family on the block with all the coolest new stuff that all their neighbors instantly covet. In an already affluent neighborhood, they raise the curve for essential possessions and throw down the gauntlet: let the games begin!

German-born Borte got his start as a graphic designer for surf products for such well-known companies as Billabong and Gotcha. As a director, he cut his teeth making industrial and corporate films and commercials. So he knows a little something about the iconography of stuff in our modern society, and the marketeering that keeps us all salivating after it. You know how it goes: the more you get, the more you want. Happily, as a storyteller, Borte is too savvy to preach while inviting us to consider what we're willing to lose, or become, to get what we think we want.

In a ritzy gated community somewhere in the suburbs of America, the new Jones family makes quite an impact. Patriarch Steve (David Duchovny) is an easygoing charmer with a killer golf swing who drives the latest purring, hi-tech foreign sports car. Mom Kate (Demi Moore) is a sexy, beautiful woman of considerable leisure who spends most of her time at the salon, organizing parties, or inviting the neighbor women in for a tour of her fabulous house.

Teenagers Mick (Ben Hollingsworth) and Jenn (Amber Heard) are soon the envy of their peers for all their amazing gadgets. His wall-sized digital gaming screen has all the other guys drooling. (One of his new friends tartly observes that his folks must have screwed up big-time to try to placate him with so much stuff.) Jenn, meanwhile, has all the girls at school lining up to sample her lipstick, cosmetics and shoes.

The Joneses seem too good to be true, and therein lies the diabolically clever premise of Borte's film. Suffice it to say there's a good reason the Jones family has so many upscale toys—live video camera phones, running shoes, golf clubs, track suits, miraculous frozen hors d'oeuvres, home décor (not to mention a Japanese toilet seat the pops up and plays music the minute you enter the bathroom)—and why they're so eager to share with their new neighbors.

As their story plays out, Borte spins a smooth satire on a culture where things not only confer status, but are marketed to satisfy other social and emotional cravings as well. A neighbor (Gary Cole) neglected by his insecure wife (Glenne Headly) literally buys into the idea of showering her with expensive gifts in hopes of luring her away from her motivational tapes at bedtime. The verve with which Steve and Kate tease and kiss each other in public reinforces the perverse implication that great sex comes from great stuff— which is, of course, the essence of all marketing. And when the inevitable reckoning comes, Borte doesn't shrink from showing the ruinous consequences of consumerism, or blaming the bottom-line mentality (coupled with human gullibility) that sells it so relentlessly.

Duchovny is well cast in a role that makes use of both his surface glibness and the sense that there is something decent and film_jonesesredeemable inside; he's also extremely funny. In the more complex role, Moore nails Kate's drive and imbues her with hidden vulnerability, although screenwriter Borte never quite makes a credible case for what motivates her. And a still sassy Lauren Hutton is great fun as a chic corporate shark doling out Faustian bargains with ruthless élan.

THE JONESES ★★★

With David Duchovny, Demi Moore, Gary Cole, and Lauren Hutton. Written and directed by Derrick Borte. A Roadside Attractions release. Rated R. 93 minutes.

Watch movie trailer >>>

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Catwalk on the Wild Side

Meet the artists and designers behind this year’s edition of FashionART, SantaCruz’s most outrageous fashion show

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Watch List

From Google to the government to data brokers, why your privacy is now a thing of the past

 

The Peace Equation

Sunday is the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, a global peace-building day when nations, leaders, governments, communities and individuals are invited to end conflict, cease hostilities, creat 24 hours of non-violence and promote goodwill. Monday is Autumn equinox as the Sun enters Libra (right relations with all of life). The Soul Year now begins. We work in the dark part of the year (Persephone underground) preparing for the new light of winter solstice. Tuesday to Wednesday is the Virgo new moon festival. We know two things about peace. “The absence of war does not signify peace.” And “Peace is an ongoing process.” In its peace-building emphasis, the UNIDP, through education, attempts to create a “culture of peace, understanding and tolerance”. Esoterically we are reminded of the peace equation: “Intentions for goodwill (and acting upon this intention) create right relations with all earth’s kingdoms which create (the ongoing process of) peace on earth.” At noon on Sunday, in all time zones, millions of participating groups will observe a moment of silence for peace on earth. Bells will ring, candles will be lit, and doves released as the New Group of World Servers recite the Great Invocation (humanity’s mantram of direction). To connect with others around the world see www.cultureofpeace.org    Let us join together with the mother (Virgo). Goodwill to all, let peace prevail on earth. The dove is the symbol for the day.
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Sweet Treats

Local cannabis bakers win award for cookies

 

What fashion trends do you want to see, or not see?

Santa Cruz  |  High School Guidance Counselor

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Santa Clara Wine Trail

My memories of growing up in England include my mother pouring port after Sunday dinner—and sometimes a glass of sherry before dinner. My family didn’t drink much wine back then, but we certainly made up for it with the port and sherry.