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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: The Joneses - Updated

August 8th, 2010

The Joneses - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

The Joneses is a social satire that opened in nearly 200 theaters, which is way too many for a limited release, and with 63% positive reviews, which is far too low for a limited release. It comes as no real surprise that the film struggled during its opening and then disappeared shortly afterward. But will it perform better on the home market?

The Movie

The Joneses are a family of four: mother Kate Demi Moore, father Steve David Duchovny, daughter Amber Heard, and son (Ben Hollingsworth). They move into a gated community in a lush mansion filled with beautiful things. They look like the perfect family and quickly integrate themselves into every aspect of the community, including into the lives of their neighbors, Larry and Summer Symonds. They look perfect, but they have a secret...

And here's where discussing the film gets really difficult, as it is impossible to go further into the plot without spoiling the big twist and I think it would probably be better going into the movie without knowing what that is. However, since they spoil this in the trailer, I can't feel bad for doing the same here.

They are not the perfect family, because they are not a real family. They were sent into the neighborhood by a marketing firm in order to make lots of friends, and sell them things. It's stealth marketing (which is something that is done in real life) taken to the extreme. Kate is the old hand at this and a master of the game, while Steve is new to the job. Kate is determined to make sure her unit (family) is maintaining their sales numbers. But this becomes a little more complicated because Steve is not used to pretending to be a father, and more importantly a husband. It's not that he doesn't like being Kate's husband, it's that he doesn't want to pretend as much. This is a mixed blessing for the film. On the one hand, the chemistry between Demi Moore and David Duchovny is very strong and they excel in these roles. On the other hand, it is a distraction from the main social satire. The strength of the social satire is the film's biggest weakness, as it is simply not biting enough. Part of this is due to these diversions, even the ones that add to the film overall, but there's also an issue of hypocrisy here. In a movie about over-commercialization, there are product placements. And I don't mean the products the Joneses use to sell products to their neighbors, but I mean product placements in the movie meant to sell to us, the viewing audience.

Overall more works than doesn't and because of that the film is worth checking out, but there are enough flaws that for a lot of people, a rental will be enough.

The Extras

Just a quick note: The DVD and Blu-ray arrived just this morning, but I was able to check them out and update the Extras section.

As far as extras go, there are only two deleted scenes on the DVD. The first is the full interview Steve did for the job (we see little slices of it in the movie) and the second is Steve's post-salesman career. As special features, there's nothing wrong them, but, as the DVD's only special feature, it's on the light side.

The Blu-ray has no additional extras, which is a shame. Also, while the picture and sound are clear, this is not a film that shines in High Definition by its very nature. It is a dialogue driven drama and doesn't have a lot of visual flash. That said, it only only costs 10% more, so it's a good deal.

The Verdict

The Joneses is a good movie, and a timely movie, but not a great movie. It's one that deserves to be seen by more people, but the replay value is probably more in line with a rental than a purchase. The small number of extras on the DVD and the Blu-ray reinforce that recommendation.

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