On the surface this movie really presents itself as though David Duchovony has extended his resume to generic family dramas, possibly from attempting to hone his own dramatic skills, or even attempt family comedies. The first half hour or so keeps with this sort of appearance, even though you begin to notice that things are a bit awkward. In case you don’t clue in through the introduction of the characters, the movie abruptly ends the family façade in a single and brief scene involving the only bit of nudity throughout the film. From there on, the atmosphere remains awkward in its seeming lightheartedness, even though it delves into some disturbing twists that you won’t see coming.
Two-time Golden Globe winner* David Duchovny (“Californication”) and two-time Golden Globe nominee** Demi Moore (Ghost) star as a seemingly perfect couple in the comedy The Joneses arriving on Blu-ray Disc and DVD August 10 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.The flawless and fashionable Joneses are the envy of their posh, suburban neighborhood filled with all the trappings of the upper middle class.They are the ultimate trendsetters with an endless supply of high-tech toys, designer clothes, fast cars and the latest gadgets. But as the neighbors try to keep up with the Joneses, none are prepared for the truth about this all too perfect family.
Starring in this awkward venture is David Duchovony (X-Files, Californication) and Demi Moore (G.I. Jane, Striptease), along with unheard-ofs Amber Head and Ben Hollingworth as their “children.” A welcome surprise is that Head and Hollingworth never disappoint and consistently feel natural when acting alongside veteran actors Duchovony and Moore. Joining them is cult icon Gary Cole (Office Space) along with Glenne Headly, who you probably don’t recognize until you hear her unique voice, together they play the neighbor to the Joneses. Out of the cast, Duchovony feels the most perfect if you’re familiar with his role on the HBO series “Californication,” which is pretty much a showcase of Duchovony’s mastery of lowbrow yet still punchline-y comedy. His character here, Steve Jones, is essentially a tame version of his Californication role. Most surprising, though, is Demi Moore, who I never really expected to see in what is essentially a dark comedy.
Actually “dark comedy” is a bit much more than it is, which is difficult to define. The twists throughout feel as though they wanted to get close to a dark comedy, but repressed the desire to fully cross the threshold. The plot, which seems unique enough in its subject matter, was decent but didn’t feel completely finished. We’re presented to some decent twists, but they’re at the tail end, leaving a steady pace for the movie to flow through its events. It’s really both a good and bad experience; it’s a good pace that doesn’t feel rushed and things feel like they really do naturally develop, however it’s bad in the sense that nothing especially noteworthy happens. It seems to develop subplots to advance things further, but each one is either dropped or wrapped up quickly, and without significant consequence.
The worst example of this is the “daughter,” Jenn, played by Amber Head. There are two instances in which she creates what feels like an important subplot but the first, involving implied incest, is abruptly dropped and the second one pans out into insignificance. The consequences of any subplot, if there are any, are minor and make no impact to the characters or story. I suppose the big twist could be considered to originate from a subplot, but it really feels as though it’s involve within the main plot itself so it’s difficult to tell.
Overall, though, it’s an entertaining watch with clever writing and a unique use of the too-perfect-to-be-true family. The cast all do a solid job with their characters, leaving you only desiring that the movie had given them a more normal form of development rather than showing it through several montages. Still, given its very laidback nature, it probably won’t wow you, so I recommend you Rent it.
The set itself arrives in a standard single-disc Elite Blu-ray case without any kind of slipcover or anything. Inside is a barren case with just the lonely disc. Menus are simple and easy to navigate and extras…well, we’ll tackle that amazing element in a paragraph or so.
Video is an AVC encoded 1080p effort and as usual it looks great. There isn’t a whole lot on this disc to fight for space so the film features a healthy 20mbps transfer and it looks spectacular—plenty of daylight sequences that really show off what the format is capable when it comes to daylight scenes and the detail that they can provide. It’s a pretty nice looking little transfer and the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix is decidedly kind of overkill on a film like this so it’s no surprise that the surrounds barely make a whisper most of the time. Same for the LFE really—it’s a pretty mundane audio mix but it serves its purpose.
You can’t help but look at that the back of the box of this release and think “wow, it’s so white and…barren.” Then you realize it’s because there’s nothing at all that jumps out at you on the rear cover. A strange border of dots to box in the synopsis and a small little blue box to house the rating and…the special features. Yes, the special features are trapped inside the smallest, saddest box you’ve ever seen. Fox didn’t even list the usual “Feature Film in High Definition,” “1080p,” “Lossless Audio,” or “Smart Menu Technology” that they so often put on their low-extra releases. Nope, all that’s listed here is a small little Deleted Scenes blurb that amounts to a pair of scenes (“Steve’s Job Interview,” and “Steve’s Post Life Image Career”) that run about four and a half minutes and are presented in standard definition.
Of course this isn’t a movie that did well enough neither critically nor commercially to warrant more extras, but that’s still a poor turnout. Makes you wonder why they even put them on there to begin with.
Overall a strict Rental disc.
The Joneses is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.
Film review by Andrew
Blu-ray review by The Joneses