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The Joneses (5/10)

Run Time 96 minutes.

Not for children.

The idea of this satire is that The Joneses comprise a phony family placed in a high rent residential area to market products. They make friends, have parties, and slyly push products. Alas, consequences flow, as they are wont to do. This is a good idea, but writer/director Derrick Borte chickened out and missed a good opportunity to make a terrific point about the state of American marketing.

This is two movies. The first 50 minutes is unbelievably slow and uninvolving. But after the 50 minute mark, it picks up. Unfortunately, the Hollywood Ending shows a craven creative cowardice that dooms the movie to a quick oblivion. Had it ended 10 seconds earlier, it might have been a winner. At least an ambiguous ending would have allowed the viewers to exit the theater talking about it, stimulating speculation. As it is, the exiters will probably be discussing where to have dinner.

While the acting is terrific by all the principals, Demi Moore, David Duchovny, Gary Cole, Amber Heard, and Ben Hollingsworth, the people in charge of casting had their heads up their tukkises when they cast Heard and Hollingsworth as high school students. Hollingsworth is 25 and Heard (who teems with sex appeal; while there is one shot of her sans shirt, even fully clothed she's hot) is 22 and look far too mature to pass as high school students. Cole gives a good performance as a neighbor who gets in deep water trying to keep up with the Joneses.

But this film can be summed up in the John Greenleaf Whittier’s old ditty:

Of all sad words of tongue or pen;

The saddest are these, it might have been.