Monday, November 29, 2010

The Joneses

It's hard to come up with a memorable premise for a movie, even harder to make a great movie with a memorable premise.  The Joneses is a pretty good movie with a great premise, not great enough to make a great movie, but great enough that this is an enjoyable film.

The Jones seem to have everything: charming, handsome husband, beautiful, stylish wife, good-looking, smart kids.  They move into an upscale suburban neighborhood, making friends, getting into the best social circles.  They are the kind of people who draw others to themselves, and they always have the coolest, newest stuff.  Where they get their money isn't all that clear, but the way they live, and all the stuff they have, shows that they're definitely well-to-do.
Everybody wants what she has.
What the neighbors don't know is that the Joneses are part of a stealth marketing campaign.  Mrs. Jones wears a new pair of shoes, and all the ladies in the neighborhood want them.  Mr. Jones plays with a new kind of golf club, and everyone at the country club wants one.  The son has the hottest new gaming system, and his buddies want one, too.  The Joneses get all their stuff from their employer, who does real life product placement.  Even though the effect is overly farcical--I mean, are people really that easily swayed by what their friends have?--the point is well-made.  We are at the mercy of marketers and corporations, much more than we realize.  One has to make a deliberate effort not to be influence by the marketing that surrounds us every day. 

I have to wonder how much of this stealth marketing or real life product placement goes on.  I know of some examples, especially among teens and college kids, where products are provided free to some in hopes that they will influence others to buy.  But the scale of the placements in The Joneses seems unrealistic: they are too small a factor given too much credit for influencing sales.  I know it's a movie, but that goofiness detracted from the overall message of the movie.  Still, it's a fun flick, not a classic, but it will make you think next time some trend goes viral--What's really driving that product's popularity?

Bottom line, 2 1/2 stars.

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