GIVEN THAT THE AVERAGE American consumer spends her days pinned in the crosshairs of ever-craftier marketers, the premise of The Joneses is an inspired bit of paranoia: A crack sales team moves into an affluent neighborhood, disguised as the enviably attractive Jones family. Under a façade of all-American friendliness, each member of the family strategically markets to their target audience, i.e., their peers—casually flaunting their cell phones, skateboards, and golf clubs, the Joneses goad their oblivious, status-conscious neighbors into a stuff-buying frenzy.

What begins as an entertainingly cynical conceit, though, falls apart as soon as the film asks us to care about the "Joneses" themselves: It soon appears that Daddy Jones (David Duchovny) might have fallen in love with Mommy Jones (Demi Moore), while the Jones children have hang-ups of their own. Perhaps, we are asked to consider... there is more to life than "stuff"? And so The Joneses' bones go limp, and the plot slumps from a satire about ruthless marketers into a melodrama about Fox Mulder's feelings. The clichés come trickling in after that—it's no surprise when a neighbor's attempt to keep up with the proverbials results in a missed mortgage payment and worse. Like watching a declawed cat try to climb a fence, The Joneses is entertaining enough, but it misses out on a chance to really draw some blood.