- Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt ( Days of Summer), Scarlett Johansson (He’s Just Not That Into You), Julianne Moore (Crazy Stupid Love) and more.
- Directed by: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Directorial debut)
- Synopsis: “Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a strong, handsome, good old-fashioned guy. His buddies call him Don Jon due to his ability to “pull” a different woman every weekend, but even the finest fling doesn’t compare to the bliss he finds alone in front of the computer watching pornography. Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson) is a bright, beautiful, good old-fashioned girl. Raised on romantic Hollywood movies, she’s determined to find her Prince Charming and ride off into the sunset. Wrestling with good old-fashioned expectations of the opposite sex, Jon and Barbara struggle against a media culture full of false fantasies to try and find true intimacy in this unexpected comedy written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.”
- Rating: Rated R for strong and graphic sexual content and language, adult situations, nudity and some drug usage.
- Must-Watch Trailer:
Originally titled Don Jon’s Addiction and seemingly headed early towards a rating of NC-17 from the MPAA, 3rd Rock from the Sun actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s first directed film changed its name and toned down a bit of its content to bring this modern love story to audiences with an R rating. Do not, however, think for a second that this means that Don Jon is a family film…because it is not.
Those of you who have visited this site for any good length of time are very much aware of my love for my “movie wife” Scarlett Johansson. And, even though she may be temporarily distracted by some guy named Roman who found a ring and asked her to put it on, my dedication and admiration of her still stands and is rivaled by no other would-be fan! 😉 Upon seeing her in this trailer and how gorgeous she looks, well, I knew I had to see it.
Aside from gorgeous people (of which there is no shortage in this film), normal dysfunctional family gatherings, relatable characters with natural chemistry, quests and habits, Don Jon is, at its heart, a film about discovery of self, love, reality and facades. A single well-to-do, confident bachelor who revels in his routine of his nightly conquests, daily habit of watching pornography, regular maintenance of his body and pad and weekly tradition of confession and absolving of sins at church finds little more to truly enjoy in his self-centered life…until meeting the “dime” of his life: Barbara Sugarman. It’s then that things begin to change, but not in the way he either expected or desired.
The message of the harm of fantasy affecting expectations in reality comes through Gordon-Levitt’s writing crystal clear as not only does his character face that flaw about himself, but he also begins to see it in others as an unexpected friendship/relationship points out what a healthy relationship should and could be. While some of the characters in Don Jon do little other than to help create the world around Jon, their inclusion helps and, while questionable at times, makes the film more rounded as a whole.
So, what about the adult content? Well, there is tons of it. Be warned. This is not a film that I picture many people going to watch with their mothers. Multiple x-rated clips that are shown to depict Jon’s world and addicting habits do their job, albeit a bit gratuitously. However, do know this: Don Jon is not a “movie about porn.”
It is a movie that sheds light on the reality of people’s addictions to their fantasies and presuppositions as to what love is supposed to be as dictated by Hollywood and other such venues. Jon had to face his addiction to porn and its fantasies whilst dating a girl with the same delusions given from unrealistic romantic comedies.
You can probably guess how the movie ends as it still heavily borrows from some of the plot points of the very films it seeks to chide and, thus, the film weakens itself to a degree. Julianne Moore’s character finds more use in the story as it unfolds and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character finds development that romance films often only dream of attaining.
Mixed with plenty of comedy (Jon’s constant goal of lowering his penance total of Hail Mary’s at confession is a source of continual laughter throughout), interesting characters (Jon’s mostly-silent yet seeing sister), true relationships (i.e. Jon and his boys; Jon and his father played by Tony Danza; Jon and his girls.) and plenty of drama, Don Jon entertains and still lands its message.
A bit disappointing was not only the ending, although it does follow suit with the film as a whole, but also the cohesion as a whole (or development) of some of the underlying plot points that seemed a bit rushed when they finally were revealed on screen. But, all of that was easily forgiven whenever Scarlett Johansson was on. haha 🙂 (Gotta say, impressive accent work for New York City native Scarlett Johansson.)
But Gordon-Levitt is new to the directing scene and seems to already be making waves with this one. Nice job. (Some might question his following of Affleck’s method by writing, directing AND starring, but I can’t blame him. I can only imagine JGL sitting at his desk thinking “What movie can I write that puts me around so many hot women, including Scarlett Johansson, and finds me in bed with a ton of them? I got it! I’ll make a modern day Don Juan movie and I will star in it as well.” haha.
Can’t blame him…as a matter of fact, I think I might have turned green a few times while watching him with Scarlett!)
My Score: 3 out of 5 stars for Don Jon
(Remember, to read this review of mine and over 250 more, check out THE ARCHIVE of movies I have reviewed anytime. Know before you go…or rent…or buy!)
Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!
–T, The Focused Filmographer