Don Jon (2013)

don jon IMDb

Little Tommy Solomon has come a long way since Third Rock from the Sun. Not only has he defied the curse of being a child actor, but he’s added screenwriter and director to his portfolio as well with Don Jon. I usually don’t like it when actors micromanage movies in this way, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt just nails everything in Don Jon— literally and figuratively.

This movie absolutely gets everything right in the way it portrays contemporary society’s obsessions with romance, masculinity, and porn. The story centers around Jon (Gordon-Levitt), a Jersey guy of Italian American descent who spends his nights bedding women. His sex life is applauded by his bros, but it isn’t what it seems. Jon is unable to really enjoy sex because it never lives up to porn. He’d rather jerk off to internet clips, and he does so with ferocity.

While Don Jon does a great job of addressing the male infatuation with porn, it also explores the flip side in the female love of romantic comedies. Jon eventually starts dating Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), a woman who is crazy for romances with fairytale endings. She wants Jon to be the perfect man like those in her movies: masculine, ambitious, and with eyes only for her. The difference between Jon and Barbara, though, is that Jon knows what he is watching isn’t real. He doesn’t ask Barbara to be dirtier in the sack to suit his desires (though it would have be interesting to see her reaction if he had). Barbara, on the other hand, tries to change Jon to fit her fantasy of a man and becomes incredibly upset when he doesn’t live up to her standards.

While the story is excellent, the acting really sells this movie. Gordon-Levitt and Johansson play the perfect Jersey couple. Their speech and mannerisms are so dead on you’d swear you were watching an episode of The Jersey Shore. Other stand outs are Tony Danza and Glenne Headley as Jon’s parents, both killing it as doting Italian American parents. Julianne Moore rounds out the cast as a lady taking the same night class as Jon. She’s the antithesis of all these larger than life characters, and  provides some calm away from the loudness of the rest of the cast.

This is a movie I highly recommend. If you think it’s all about porn, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that there’s a lot more to the plot. Watching Jon confront his demons is entertaining, and not many films build a character arch as convincing as this one.

Rating: A-

Is there anything Joseph Gordon-Levitt can’t do? He is already an accomplished actor, managing to bridge the gap between child actor and adult star, has starred in some of the best movies of the best five or six years (Inception, Looper), and now he has added solid directorial debut to his list of achievements. Don Jon is an interesting look at what it is like to be a man in today’s world where internet porn is only a click away. It is a very addictive things for most men and Don Jon captures this perfectly.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Jon, a gym junkie bartender who sleeps with a new girl every night, but still finds the lure of internet porn too alluring to give up. He finds that real world sex is nowhere near as good as anything the internet can show him. He enjoys a simple life of womanising until his new squeeze Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) catches him watching porn and forces him to stop. Jon is forced to choose between his new love and the internet, something he is reluctant to do. The film revolves around Jon’s struggle to cut the internet out of his life for the sake of his new love, as well as covering a new friendship that begins with one of the older women (Julianne Moore) at his college.

Levitt is so good in the lead role of Jon. He embodies the character so well, he has a prefect strut you’ve come to expect from an arrogant ladies man like Jon and also does a great Brooklyn accent. I was most surprised by Johansson though. She is great as the new love in Jon’s life. I’ve never been that impressed by Johansson in the past, but here she is beautiful, and also does such a good job doing the New York accent. She perfectly captures the mannerisms and attitude of a woman like Barbara. She feels like a New York version of a California Valley girl, she is really good. Tony Danza also turns up as Jon’s father. He is a lot of fun, although it is weird hearing Tony Micelli dropping F bombs.

This is a solid film that does a really good job of capturing what it is like to be a man living in today’s world. Levitt is great as a leading man, but the fact he directed this movie also is quite the achievement. He has a lot of potential and I’m looking forward to seeing what he does next.

Rating: B+

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