The Joneses

gadgets, furniture, food, drink, clothes and whatever to feel equal.

At first, Steve has a hard time wrapping his head around the mission. This is his first “family,” and he finds himself trying to form actual bonds with his coworkers, who have done this before and understand not getting attached is paramount. Kate is especially adept at keeping her eye on the prize, eventually leading Steve down the wide road through the land of easy pickings.

One knows going in what’s going to happen: The carefully constructed false front created by the Joneses will slowly crumble. As the situation deteriorates, it illustrates that manipulating people takes a toll not only on the manipulated, but on those doing the manipulating.

All the same, watching the devolution play out is tense and compelling. While one wouldn’t exactly call this an A-list cast, it is competent and chosen to work against expectation to create a certain level of unpredictability. Longtime character actors Gary Cole (“Extract“) and Glenne Headly (“Kit Kittredge“) turn in solid, sympathetic performances as Larry and Summer, the neighbors trying to keep up with the Joneses. They start off as peripheral comic relief, but grow increasingly human as they desperately compete with what’s essentially the shadow of an idea.

While “The Joneses” is, again, essentially predictable, it still manages to show that the business of selling is somewhat like a virus. We might think we’re inoculated against its charms, but it always finds a way to convince us a bigger TV, new shoes or sweet ride will silence whatever angst ails us. “”Mike Robertson

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