April 16, 2010 at 1:00 am

Tom Long Film Review: 'The Joneses' -- GRADE: B-

Review: 'The Joneses' is worth keeping up

Amber Heard plays the teenage girl in a staged family dynamic. (Gene Page)

A cheeky little commentary on modern consumption, "The Joneses" offers an uneasy balance between what's funny and what's not, staying just edgy enough to be uncomfortable while hitting its targets.

Into an upper-middle class neighborhood rolls a seemingly perfect family, moving into a seemingly perfect house. There's the perpetually smiling Steve (David Duchovny), his lovely wife Kate (Demi Moore) and their two gorgeous high school kids, Jenn (Amber Heard) and Mick (Ben Hollingsworth).

Their house is beautifully appointed, they wear the latest styles, they drive the latest cars, Steve even rides the latest lawnmower. They seem too good to be true.

That's because they're not. The Jones family comprises four strangers who've been hired by a marketing firm to infiltrate this wealthy community and set trends. They are living product placement commandos, selling the good life to the neighborhood.

But of course all is not well within this false family. Steve actually is attracted to the icy Kate, while Jenn is attracted to Steve and whoever else is available. Breakfast can be ugly.

Still, the infiltration works, sucking everyone in their orbit into buying what the Joneses are modeling. Unfortunately, not everyone -- including neighbors Larry (Gary Cole) and Summer (Glenne Headly) -- can afford such luxury.

Writer-director Derrick Borte makes much of marketing and manipulation, but ultimately he has nowhere to go dramatically but down. Still, the film gives pause: If you are what you buy, shouldn't we all be shopping better?