Too often a film’s concept overshoots its delivery. Film buffs grimace with self-doubt—they should have known better than to trust mainstream satire. The beautiful thing about the advancement of cable-television programming, however, is its potential to salvage ideas that are not quite filmic. The lame pseudoindie or lower-budget Hollywood film of yesterday has become the respectable, award-winning cable series of today.

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The Joneses is one of those that don’t quite fit the film mold, despite its appealing concept. The movie exudes awkwardness. Demi Moore and David Duchovny (she aptly belonging to film, he aptly belonging to television) play parents to two boringly attractive teenagers, but we learn right away that this white-collar, bleached-teeth clique is masking a cynical reality: The attractive family is in fact a team of viral marketers hired by corporations to sell a product-driven lifestyle. The Joneses move into a McMansion wasteland, shampoo their hair, throw on designer sunglasses, and attempt to sparkle their way into the residents’ hearts and credit accounts.

Disappointingly, and as mentioned earlier, it doesn’t quite work. Considering the recent rise of consumer criticism in mainstream movies, The Joneses feels indifferent. Demi and David and kids waver only a teensy bit from professional loyalty to moral ambivalence. Most of the time, they act as if they could take or leave the high-end loot they’re inundated with, but the film doesn’t hint at anything so interesting as sociopathic ennui. Instead, it perverts into a dumb movie love story. I wonder what HBO could have done.

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