Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Sep 02nd
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

 

You Are What You Post

Online personality algorithms put astrological profiles to shame, but UCSC psychologists are raising questions about sharing personal data

 

Venus Direct, Mercury Retro Soon, Honoring Our Labors

As Burning Man (nine days, Aug. 30-Sept. 7 in the sign of Virgo) burns in the hot white desert sands, a petal of the rose created by retrograde Venus and the twelve-petaled Sun in Virgo’s petals unfold. All of us are on the burning ground (Leo) in the womb (cave of the heart) of the mother (Virgo), gestating for humanity once again (each year) a new state of consciousness. Both Virgo and Cancer, feminine (receptive energies) signs, are from our last solar system (Pleiades). When humanity first appeared on Earth we were nurtured by the mother, a matriarchy of energies (on islands in the Pacific). Eve, Isis and Mary are part of the lineages of our ancient Mother. Overseen by the Pleiades, the Earth (matter, mater, the mother) in that last solar system was imbued with intelligence (Ray 3). As we move toward autumn, another mother, Ceres realizes she has mere weeks left with her beloved daughter, Persephone. Persimmon and pomegranate trees prepare for autumn, their colors signs of hope as the light each day continues to dim. Sunday, Venus in Leo turns stationary direct, yet continues in her shadow until Oct. 9 (when retrograde Mercury turns direct). Slowly our newly assessed values emerge from the Venus retrograde. We thought in Venus retro how to use our resources more effectively. Mercury retrogrades Sept. 17. Monday is Labor Day. Let us honor the labor of everyone, all life a “labor.” Let us honor Labor Day and all those who have “served” (labored for) us this past year. We honor their labors. We honor the labor of our parents, those who have loved us. We honor our own labors, too. We are all in service, we are all laboring. We are all valuable.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Girl Gone Wild

’70s SF recalled in raw, poignant ‘Diary of a Teenage Girl’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Sushi Garden

Local sushi empire expands to Scotts Valley

 

Do you overshare online?

I don’t think so. I just post things about my life, like successful things. Sometimes I just like sharing different news that I find interesting, or favorite artists, clothes, music. I like to post photos. Natalia Delgado, Santa Cruz, Server

 

McIntyre Vineyards

I recently met up with three friends for dinner at Sanderlings at Seascape Beach Resort. We chose to eat outside so we could watch the sun set over the ocean, but the Aptos fog rolled in and swallowed it up.

 

Sustainable Supper

The Homeless Garden Project’s Sustain Supper series supports its award-winning programs