Demi Moore plays a wife and mother in The Joneses, and “plays” is the operative word. Not only does Moore act the part of a character named Kate Jones in the thin satire opening this weekend, but Kate (if that’s even her real name) is herself a fiction, an imposter housewife played by an employee of an insidious marketing company. Accessorized with a fake husband (David Duchovny) and two fake young-adult children, our “Kate” has got a job to do: She and her photogenic all-American “family” must, by flaunting their enviable lifestyle, persuade everyone who ogles their beauty (as well as the beauty of their expensive cars, golf clubs, handbags, jewelry, dinnerware, etc.) to want to be just like the Joneses, and buy the same luxury goods. Gotta keep up!
Me, I’m less interested in the stuff the Joneses are peddling — square, gadgety goods, nothing really cool or stylish or worth buying unless you’ve got conservative tastes and live in a suburban gated community– than I am in the almost eerie sight of sleek, glossy, age-retardant Demi Moore on the job. We’ve known the actor for a quarter of a century now (St. Elmo’s Fire came out in 1985, Ghost in 1990); we’ve seen her naked in Vanity Fair. And yet there is something profoundly opaque and perpetually red-carpet-ready about her presentation. She’s Demi Moore (real-life woman nearing the age of 50) playing “Demi Moore” (tweeter, spokesmodel, beauty standard, brand) playing Demi Moore (veteran movie actor in an industry that fetishizes younger women) playing in a movie in which she plays a woman whose life is all veneer.
The result? I’m fascinated by the star — and confounded by her. I’m impressed with her — and rarely feel warmed by her performances. I admire her toned, unblemished loveliness and am convinced she lives in a universe that exists only in photos, movies, TV, and tweets. I never think, “I’ll have what she’s having.” But I do wonder what it’s like, for real, to play the role of Demi Moore with such labor-intensive attention to detail. So I keep coming back for more. Which means she’s made a sale, right?