Imagine an advertising firm wanted to pay you to use a particular kind of phone and all you have to do is tell your friends about how great it is, does that sound ethical to you? What if you were paid to move into a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife, cute kids and all the cool stuff you could imagine and all you have to do is tell people that, that is your life and encourage them to want what you had, would that be ethical? Would you consider that lying? Those are exactly the questions posed by the new fascinating and extremely entertaining black comedy, "The Joneses." David Duchovny and Demi Moore star in the film, in two terrific performances, as the married couple who are actually strangers pretending to have the perfect life together. Equally excellent in the film is the great Gary Cole, who seems to steal every scene in every movie he's in, and veteran actress Glenne Headly as the envious next door neighbors desperate to have the life that they see advertised next door.
The film, in tone, reminds me of Duchovney's other great black comedy, '2006s "The TV Set" and the actor is just as good, if not better here. Of course, Duchovney is best known for playing Agent Fox Mulder on "The X-Files" TV series and in the films, as well as his current hit show "Californication," but the actor does have a reputation for picking unusual yet intriguing film projects and quite often gives a bold and daring performance. That is no different in this movie as the actor has an opportunity to show all of his wide range of emotions in the film. Demi Moore was for some time one of the most popular actresses in the world. She's since semi-retired to raise her daughters but now that most of them are grown, in fact Rumor is an accomplished actress in her own right now, she is back in front of the camera and if her performance here is any example of the work she is capable of doing then the actress still has some of the best work of her career left ahead for audiences to enjoy. Her performance her is both sophisticated and vulnerable, while she is completely believable in every scene she's in. Moore's icy cool demeanor is perfect for the role.
The film begins by introducing us to the Joneses, a new family moving into an upper-class suburban neighborhood. Steve (Duchovny) and Kate (Moore) seem to have the perfect lives. They have two beautiful children, Jenn (Amber Heard) and Mick (Ben Hollingsworth), they live in a gorgeous house, they have great cars and all the latest cool stuff. They are instantly liked and envied by everyone in the neighbor hood by the Joneses are harboring dark secret ... it's not real! You see Steve, Kate, Jenn and Mick are not a real family. They don't even really known each other. They are essentially actors, paid by a marketing firm to display the perfect life and make all their friends and neighbors want the same state-of-the-art stuff that they have. Steve is new at this but catching on quick while Kate is an old pro who hopes to earn a corporate position soon. The Joneses are a hit in the neighborhood right away, however their perfect lives could begin to unravel.
Jenn is a sex addict and begins to seduce several married men in the neighborhood while Mick quickly finds a popular girlfriend, but he has a secret as well ... he's gay. Things get more complicated as Steve begins to have feelings for Kate. As the team continues to sell with great success the Joneses befriend the next-door neighbors, Larry and Summer, brilliantly played by Gary Cole and Glenne Headly, respectively. Larry and Summer try desperately to "keep up" with the Joneses but that just begins to create financial problems for the couple. As the Joneses lies become bigger and bigger, their perfect life becomes threatened by local tragedy and Steve, a former golf-pro and used car salesman comes face to face with morals and ethics that he didn't even know he had. In the end, while it may be a fake family, it's the only family he has and he will stop at nothing to keep them together as he realizes that he truly loves Kate. Now Kate must choose between the posh life that she thought she wanted and the real love that she has found with Steve.
Also giving a fine performance in the film is Lauren Hutton, who plays the wise yet cold corporate handler for the family. Both Heard and Hollingsworth are adequate in their performances as well. But it is the work of Duchovny, Moore, Cole and Headly that is really excellent here. All four actors display a depth and understanding for the material that comes out in every moment of their performances. While Duchovny and Moore definitely center the movie and carry most of the weight on their own, it's Cole's breakout performance as the decent yet tragic neighbor that will have people talking. Cole has been giving great performances for years and while he is still best known for his role in the cult classic "Office Space," hopefully this movie will go along way to showing the true range of the actor. First time writer/director Derrick Borte certainly did not pull any punches with his first feature, as it is a powerful, thought provoking and darkly funny film. In the end, The Joneses will make you think about the importance that we put on consumer products in this country and how it affects our lives while making you laugh and entertaining you at the same time with the film's brilliant performances.