A New Jersey guy dedicated to his family, friends, and church, develops unrealistic expectations from watching porn and works to find happiness and intimacy with his potential true love.
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Jon Martello objectifies everything in his life: his apartment, his car, his family, his church, and, of course, women. His buddies even call him Don Jon because of his ability to pull "10s" every weekend without fail. Yet even the finest flings don't compare to the transcendent bliss he achieves alone in front of the computer watching pornography. Dissatisfied, he embarks on a journey to find a more gratifying sex life, but ends up learning larger lessons of life and love through relationships with two very different women. Written bySophiaLB
I saw this at a pre-screening for SXSW and I was really impressed.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt really holds his own as a writer/director, and it
was nice to see him in a role I hadn't really considered him "right"
for. Scarlett Johansen and Julianne Moore are both wonderful as well.
Basically, you should see this if you get the chance. It's funny,
charming, different, and tells a great story that ends up going in a
direction I hadn't anticipated.
This film basically tells the story of a young guido (Gordon-Levitt)
who has a porn addiction and ends up in a relationship with Scarlett
Johansen's character. One thing leads to another, blah blah blah....
you'll see when you see it. I don't want to give too much away.
Anyway, yeah! Really good film, great directorial debut, and a well
told story. I'd recommend this film.
Defining what kind of film this is had to be the hardest part of
getting DON JON made, but ultimately it was worth it! It isn't really a
"guy" film even though *technically* it tries to look at sex from a
guy's perspective. It may actually best be called a "chick" flick, but
one they would see alone rather than with a date. At the screening I
saw, ALL the raucous laughter was coming from very obviously female
voices - falling out of their chairs laughing over what they viewed as
stereotypical male behavior - and even as the supposed "10" played by
Scarlett Johansson reveals herself to be the kind of demanding (insert
the word for a female canine here) who a very stupid - make that
excessively immature - straight boy (like the one played with supreme
élan by author/director Gordon-Levitt) would make a fool of himself
The film heavily satirizes stereotypical straight New Jersey Catholics
- the easily offended of which should probably stay away along with
anyone who expects a slick date night romantic comedy that doesn't
require them to THINK - but it IS a beautifully structured and polished
first directorial effort and very funny in its way. Man or woman
though, it is not your usual DATE film to see with the opposite sex.
The litmus scene for the film was probably when Johansson (Barbara)
confronts Gordon-Levitt (Jon) over watching porn! Foolishly trying to
evoke simple reason, he (accurately) tells her that "EVERY guy watches
porn - and that anyone who says he doesn't is lying." The theatre got
absolutely quiet there for a moment in any section where dates were
sitting, as each side wondered what the other was thinking. What YOU
may think in that scene will determine a lot about how you view and
react to the film. You may enjoy it regardless of what you think of
that (for the film) core issue, but you sure won't want to see it with
anyone who you can't comfortably talk about it with.
The "home" scenes with Jon's family and Barbara's are probably excess
baggage, but they give the central characters broad context (the
broadest performance in a very stylized film is probably Tony Danza's
performance as Jon's father) - and set up the one totally human moment
in the film when Jon's silent sister defines what a good sibling should
be when she finally has a line! Ultimately, there is one unexpected,
rational woman (Julianne Moore giving a remarkable imitation of Susan
Sarandon!) who Jon meets in the night class Barbara insists he take who
not only "gets" him but broadens his horizons for the kind of growth
any central character in a good film must have.
Don't expect a pat happy ending or a cheap thought-free throw away
comedy (and DON'T make it first date material with someone you don't
know yet!), and the open minded will have a wonderful time. My
take-away image is really of a few years ago at the first Broadway
preview of a Tony winning musical called AVENUE Q. Just before it
started, a student of mine at the university where I teach came over to
introduce his mother who was seeing the show too, sitting in front of
each other all the way over at the side. Midway through the show there
was a very funny, very outrageous musical number called "You Can Be As
Loud As You Want" (When You're making Love). I glanced over to see how
my student and his mother were taking it and, as you can imagine, my
student, sitting in front of his mother, was sinking onto the floor
with embarrassment. What he *couldn't see* was his mother rocking with
laughter both at the insouciance of the number and her son's
embarrassment! I think my mother (who, as far as I know, probably
doesn't approve of pornography) or my minister would be howling with
laughter at DON JON too - but they probably wouldn't want anyone they
knew to see them doing so.
Recommended - but with noted reservations.
Don Jon (2013)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt wrote, director and stars as Jon, a
twenty-something man who loves women but what he loves even more is
watching porn. He meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) who demands that
he gives it up for her. DON JON isn't the greatest film ever made but I
will say that I don't recall ever watching a film that was so
confident. Confidence is something most people lack and even most brass
films lack it but DON JON certainly isn't afraid to say what it wants
to and stick by it. Having a romantic comedy that says watching porn is
better than being with women and then tells you why that's the case is
something incredibly rare. What's even rarer is that this type of
subject is usually just played for cheap laughs but here there's a
complete story wrapped around it that asks a lot of questions, gives a
lot of answers and as I said, is 100% confident about itself. The
confidence just really jumps off the screen unlike any film I've ever
seen and that's where the original aspect of this film comes. There
have been countless films that downplay women but this one here just
does so in such a fresh and original way that you can't help but enjoy
it. It also is very smart about guys, their mentality on sex and
various other issues. Gordon-Levitt does a wonderful job all around but
especially in the acting department. As the writer he certainly knows
this character very well but it still takes a very strong performance
to get that to the screen and the actor does a fabulous job. Johansson
also turns in her greatest work outside of a Woody Allen picture and
Tony Danza is very memorable in his supporting bit as is Glenne Headly
and Julianne Moore. The screenplay is certainly dirty and covers a lot
of topics but the film never crosses the offensive line. The main
reason it doesn't cross the line is that it remains smart no matter
what it's saying and how dirty it's being said. DON JON is certainly a
refreshing film that should get one excited thinking that Gordon-Levitt
could turn into someone to keep your eye on not just as an actor but as
a writer and director.