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The Joneses

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David Duchovny and Demi Moore in The Joneses
> Interview: Demi Moore

Brace yourselves for a bombshell - Demi Moore and David Duchovny star together in a very good new movie. Given the dismal fortunes of the pair's recent cinematic offerings you'd be forgiven for thinking this is all part of some elaborate April Fool's Day joke that's running a few weeks late. Yet The Joneses is a thoroughly engrossing effort that embellishes its high concept and socially relevant plot with laughs, shocks and vibrant performances.

To optimise your enjoyment of the movie, try hard to avoid seeing any of the frustratingly spoilerish trailers beforehand and perhaps stop reading this review right now. For the early part of the story provides plenty of intrigue, as a squeaky clean family - the titular Joneses - move into an affluent neighbourhood and soon have the locals craving to be them. Steve (Duchovny) is the envy of the golf club with his snazzy gear, while his wife Kate (Moore) has the other housewives in the street gawping at her perfection. But something isn't quite right about the family, which becomes especially noticeable when Jenn (Amber Heard) strips off and jumps into bed with her daddy Steve.

When the true nature of The Joneses emerges, the narrative superbly explores themes of consumerism, materialism and love with an array of visual gags and witty dialogue. The script knows exactly when to land a killer dramatic blow in the final reel too, with the laughter abruptly replaced by a lump in the throat. If only The Joneses had finished several minutes earlier, we might have had a modern day classic on our hands. Sadly though, a sickeningly conventional resolution was bafflingly chosen ahead of the ambiguous ending the film needed.

Duchovny and Moore complement each other wonderfully as Steve and Kate, with the former's trademark laconic manner providing an appealing contrast to Mrs Kutcher's steely determination. The development of their relationship, as the truth unravels, is both convincing and unpredictable. As their kids, Amber Heard and Ben Hollingsworth acquit themselves well and add a good degree of emotional depth to their parts. On the subject of parts, Miss Heard yet again displays plenty of her own. Her career is starting to echo that of her on screen mother's, which infamously prompted spoof interviewer Dennis Pennis to ask Demi: "If it wasn't gratuitous in any way and it was tastefully done, would you consider keeping your clothes on in a movie?"

A refreshing surprise, The Joneses brings out the best from its supposedly 'past it' leads and delivers a compelling and humorous portrayal of modern society's superficial inclinations. Making good use of its excellent premise, this flawed gem deserves to find an audience.


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