May 24, 2010

The Joneses: Movie Review

Who can resist a movie where David Duchovny is being adorable?

This movie was just okay. The premise is that four salespeople pose as a family in an affluent neighborhood and "self-market" specific products. The movie set-up some really interesting discussion topics, but didn't really push the ideas far enough. The movie ended up turning into a basic "will they get together" plot, which was disappointing.

There were a couple of ideas I wish the movie had explored further. (Major spoilers ahead.)

David Duchovny's character (Steve) spends a lot of his energy marketing all of his new toys to his next door neighbor. Steve doesn't know that the neighbor is already in severe debt and can't afford to buy a rider lawn mower with a television attached. So the neighbor gets increasingly discouraged trying to keep up with Steve Jones and his infinite ability to buy expensive things. The neighbor refuses to talk to his wife about it, and eventually drives his fancy lawn mower into the pool and kills himself. A similar thing happens with the son's friend. She gets in a car accident after leaving a party drunk on the wine juice packs the son was trying to market.

The movie suggests that the suicide and the car accident are The Jones's fault. I think the whole idea of self-marketing is at best morally questionable, but what about personal responsibility? Whose fault is it really that people buy more than they can afford? Or succumb to peer pressure and get too drunk to drive? There's no discussion in the movie, it's the Jones's fault.

Another idea I liked was about living an authentic life. If you buy all the props of success and happiness, does that make you successful and happy? How much of our identity is defined by the things we buy? The Joneses aren't a real family biologically, but they end up coming together and functioning like a real family by the end. If you pretend something is real for long enough, does that make it real? Like the other idea, the movie just hints at this idea, but doesn't really delve into it enough to say anything interesting.

Even though the tone and style are completely different, this movie reminded me of the tv series Mad Men. Mad Men explores the ideas above, but in a much subtler and more powerful way. I think what ultimately disappointed me about this movie was that it had so much potential, but it couldn't rise to the challenge and deliver.

Also, the movie seemed to think its audience didn't know the premise going in. The premise that this was a fake family was clearly spelled out by the trailers, but they wasted the first quarter of the movie trying to freak the audience out, assuming they'd think it was a real family. Creepy things... like having the daughter hit on the dad. If I didn't know the premise going in, it would have been incredibly disturbing.

P.S. I did see Iron Man 2, but I'm really not going to review it. I enjoyed it, but it's exactly what you think it will be. I'm longing for a really good movie that exceeds expectations. I'm looking forward to Prince of Persia, Inception, and The Last Airbender (formally known as Avatar).

May 20, 2010

I need a Cheering Charm

I saw Iron Man 2, but I don't feel like reviewing it. The Survivor season finished, but I don't feel like talking about it. Everyone around me is still obnoxious, but I'm not in the mood to properly mock it. I told Jill the other day that it feels like there are dementors roaming around lately and she reminded me that I am a huge Harry Potter nerd.

Other things I have said to Jill that indicate my Harry Potter nerdism:
  • [While on a moving walkway at the airport] "I like to walk on these and imagine someone is watching me on a Marauder's map thinking 'how is she moving so fast?!'"
  • [After a particularly great day or event.] "That was almost Patronus-level good."
  • "Accio remote!" (This hasn't worked. Yet.)
  • "Imagine he's a boggart and mentally Riddikulus him into something hilarious." (As a way to get through an excruciatingly boring meeting with a particularly obnoxious presenter. My favorite Riddikulus charm turns them into a Survivor contestant, crouching in the bushes giving a heart-felt confessional.)
  • "If I were wearing a horcrux, I'd probably quit my job over this. I just need to take a xanax. It's no sword of Gryffindor, but it'll have to do."

Ok, so that last one is a bit emo. I blame the demetors! Maybe I need to eat more chocolate.

May 3, 2010

Please Let Me Differ!!!

During our daily heavily-work-related chats, Jill said the following: "(2:58 PM) Jill: a chart or table isn't always the best way to organize information." I beg to differ. Note my previous blog entry. Now note these lovely graphs:

How is that NOT a better way to relay information?

eta: Best graph ever, btw. srsly.