When it comes to measuring material wealth and simultaneously delivering a priceless put down, the ever-humble boxing promoter Don King is the undisputed champion of the one-liner. "The man who can count his money," King once mused, "doesn't have any." His words come to mind when watching 'The Joneses'.
Steve (Duchovny) and Kate (Moore) Jones and children Jenn (Heard) and Mick (Hollingsworth) are the new arrivals in a very well-to-do area. This picture perfect family settle in fast, make friends even quicker and have everyone looking to them for lifestyle guidance and inspiration. The Joneses, it seems to their neighbours, have it all. And really, they do, because the Joneses aren't actually a family: they're a sales team who roll into town with the goods of their clients - cars, clothes, food you name it - and subliminally influence people to buy them. Everyone's happy at first with all the stuff the Joneses show them; then some of the locals get into major bother trying to keep up with them.
Had 'The Joneses' arrived in cinemas four years ago it would've worked as a cautionary tale. In 2010 as Ireland and the world take the medicine for recklessness and greed, Derrick Borte's film feels after the fact.
While big business conniving and messing with punters' minds is a full-time job, 'The Joneses' concept of having an entirely fake family hawking wares comes across as just too far-fetched. How could no-one raise an eyebrow when tonnes of goods and the boss' limo regularly arrive at the Jones homestead? Don't the kids look a bit too old for high school? Could the Joneses really track their sales figures among their latest victims so easily? Wouldn't the neighbours hate them and stop visiting within two weeks? Asking questions like this during the film shows that the premise isn't strong enough. And doesn't having the products of real-life companies all over the film only detract even more from the message?
Where Borte's film fares far better is the performances. Now more famous for Ashton Kutcher and Twitter than her acting, Moore does good work here as the control freak whose entire sense of self-worth is linked not to possessions but sales figures. Her performance is matched by Duchovny as the new arrival to this brand of commercial psychological warfare and a man more interested in wooing his fake wife than winning the monthly sales race. Watching the chemistry between the two of them makes you think that this film should have been about a couple who end up in the hole because of their lifestyle, rather than the pros who offer the shovels.
You see and hear scarier stories than this every day: keep your money, catch the performances on TV and be thankful for whatever you have.