What’s Don Jon really about?
In his writing and directorial debut Joseph Gordon-Levitt that kid I remember from 3rd Rock from the Sun makes a very adult oriented movie. A movie which has made people irate while others have praised it because of its subject matter. I was going to do a traditional review but I think there’s more to this movie then people seem to understand. Sure not everyone will or even should see it, many won’t be happy but they may be missing something vital.
JDL is a good actor. Lets just get that out of the way. In Don Jon he plays a young 20-something Italian stallion. There’s no 2 ways about this. Sunday dinner with your parents, catholic church going, partying sexing up women he brings from the club, way to much hair product, gym rat. I’m from Brooklyn, listening to him and Scarlett Johansson talk during this film reminds me of many people I knew from Jersey growing up. Jon who hangs with his 2 best friends at the club every night has a porn addiction. This isn’t an exaggeration as he finds it almost impossible to stop. While he has sex with women all the time its clear he’s not fulfilled and porn is his supplement. Because the film intersects him watching on his computer with actual porn but not exactly men and women might be confused. While I was still able to notice Alexis Texas in the montages, all the videos he watches are cut to the Skinemax level.
A good chunk of this movie revolves around when he starts to date Barbara. She makes him wait unlike all the other women who takes home from clubs. She’s different to him, she works, she asks him to better himself by taking some college classes, she teases him relentlessly before willing to sleep with him but he does it because she might be the one. Barbara has her own hangups as well. She’s rather shallow, doesn’t think men should clean their own homes, and sees Jon as an important project. Barbara eats up the romantic films ala anything Nicolas Sparks has his name attached to and believes all romances and relationships should be that way. Jon thinks sex should be the way it is in porn. Notice a pattern? Their relationship comes to a head because she’s furious he watches porn. The film doesn’t ignore he has a problem, but that’s not the takeaway some audiences seem to get out of it.
The thing people are missing and something I had no idea about till I sat down (I usually skip reading press kits till after my screening due to having major plot points spoiled to me in the past) was Julianne Moore. a woman Jon meets in his night class. Esther is the odd woman out in the school and Jon meets her as she’s having an epic crying fit outside. Not to spoil it too much, Esther points out things to Jon about how he’s not happy and things he doesn’t understand. There’s a generational gap ideas towards sex and relationships that admittedly exist in the real world and for once a film explores that without slapstick or cougar jokes.
Don Jon is a comedy definitely not a romantic comedy, most jokes are at the expense of the men in this film not the women. While it won’t pass any Bechel tests and its absolutely not a date night movie by any means I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I took far more issue with Brie Larson being underused as Monica, until she gets to be the magical prophet with a 1 paragraph montage than the sex, the porn or the vapidness of several characters. Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, Rob Brown and Jeremy Luke also star. At the heart of Don Jon its about unrealistic expectations on the parts of men and women. Is it over simplified sure but its not exactly fiction.
My Rating: Matinee
Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Studio: HitRecord Films, Relativity Media
Release Date: September 27, 2013
Run time: 90 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
For a first outing I think this is a good film. It looks good, lot of credit can go into the editing of Don Jon. As for a story there’s much to be explored and while its good enough its not great. I like this film but i didn’t love it. More people will hate it based solely on the subject matter which is a shame because he’s just scratching the surface here.