Don Jon

Don Jon photo starrating-2stars.jpg“There’s only a few things I really care about in life. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn.”

So goes the mantra of Jon Martello, Jr. or “Don Jon” as his friends call him. He’s a working-class Italian American from New Jersey with a way with the ladies. The problem? He is incapable of connecting with a woman on an emotionally intimate level.

Don Jon is a peculiar film. Jon’s belief that online pornography is better than real sex seems to be the main conundrum he wrestles with. But it’s not even an issue for him until it interferes with a genuine relationship. For most of the story, the idea is dealt with in a superficial and crude manner for laughs. Virtually everyone (with one notable exception) speaks in a stereotypical Jersey Shore dialect so thick it feels like a spoof. Glenne Headly and Tony Danza play Don’s bickering parents. They’re enjoyable if taken as a joke – a relic of some dated sitcom relying on ethnic conventions of how people from New Jersey talk and act. Scarlett Johansson hurls a Jersey girl accent that is humorous as parody. Ever catch her in Saturday Night Live’s “You gotta get yourself some marble columns” skit? It’s just like that. These are good actors and there’s some laughs. Then Julianne Moore comes along. Her awkwardly sensitive character changes all that with a tender performance that seems to belong in a completely different, more serious picture. Now you wish the rest of the cast had been written with the same courtesy.

I enjoy Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an actor, but it’s hard to understand why the star chose this topic as his directorial debut. He even wrote the script so this is clearly a passion project for him. The screenplay wants you to embrace the protagonist as this lovable lug, but flips his issue as something from which he must be cured. At first it’s because his nice girlfriend is understandably upset by his addiction, but then she becomes this shrew of a woman we’re obviously now supposed to dislike. Over the course of the chronicle we get frequent montages of going to clubs, bedding women, visiting naughty web sites, and going to confession with the priest’s dispensing of penance. It’s incredibly repetitive. That’s the point I’m sure, but it‘s so single minded as to be uninteresting. This is a portrait of a man, but it isn’t particularly hilarious or insightful. If this was a 4 minute sketch, I’d say it had some funny moments, but as a feature length movie the subject is stretched far too thin.

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22 Responses to “Don Jon”

  1. GaryLee828 Says:

    This is another one I wanted to see, but haven’t gotten the chance to hit the cinema; the last movie I went to see was “You’re Next”. Since then I have been too busy, and missed “Prisoners” and “Insidious 2”. I am going to try to go next week and catch up.

    Good review here. I hope I like it a bit more than you, but I fear I will share your exact sentiments on this one. I was hoping it was going to be on the level of “500 Days of Summer” but I figured that was wishful thinking. 500 is one of my top-tier favorite romantic films. I thought it was so well-written and JGL was phenomenal in it. He really became that character and while watching it’s hard to imagine that that’s not really the way JGL is, but it’s just a testament to his tremendous talent b/c he’s way different than Tom. What did you think of 500? I am going to check your archives.

    • (500) Days of Summer is the greatest romantic comedy of the past 5 years, maybe more.

      This was mis-marketed as a romantic comedy. It is a comedy, but a rather crude and simplistic one. Kind of explains why Cinemascore audiences gave this a C+.

      • Which happens to be the same grade I gave it. 🙂

        It’s probably more coming of age than rom com, but, while its entertaining enough, it’s too shallow and simplistic to be impacting.

        Which is to say: I completely agree with your take. It seems an odd turn to Gordon-Levitt.

      • GaryLee828 Says:

        I walked in to “Don Jon” to take a peek at it to see if it looked worth buying a ticket for, and was immediately grossed out by watching him make-out with Julianne Moore. Don’t think I will be watching this one. I thought she was his mom at first, and then they started kissing and my stomach turned. Glad I didn’t go see this one as I planned. Your review made me think twice. Thankfully.

      • How funny. That’s not even what I found objectionable about it. Actually Julianne Moore was probably the only character that wasn’t presented as a joke.

        Oh well. Given all the great films that have come out recently, this is definitely something to skip.

      • GaryLee828 Says:

        It’s not anything is wrong with her; if Tony Danza had been making out with her, no big deal – but to see the much younger JGL kissing someone who looked to be her soon just grossed me out.

        I actually think I am going to see this movie after reading some more comments on the films message board. I read about how crazy Scarlett Johannson’s character is, and I’m a little interested how all that plays out.

  2. I loved this, and I still saw its many weaknesses but I also understand this review too. It was crude as hell in some parts and I actually saw it twice. The second time the missteps were much more glaring and i indeed thought the third act felt much too tacked on and part of a diff’t film, though I still thought it a rather satisfying conclusion.

    A lot of my raving came from my love of JGL (he can do no wrong in my eyes) so my review is thereby incredibly skewed. . lol! Good review

  3. Good review Mark. JGL impressed me with his direction here, however, I will admit that it does get a bit messy by the end. Still though, for what it’s worth, I can’t wait to see what he has planned for us next.

    • Not only did JGL direct, but he even wrote and starred in it. Guess he felt this was a story that needed to be told. It was an awkward topic for a feature film. lol

  4. Oh no. I wanted to see this one. It’s on my Blu-ray list now. Sad JGL had to do this for his directorial debut…wouldn’t have expected a movie so immensely/dumbly crude.

  5. I was pretty disappointed by this movie. I like Joseph as an actor, a lot. Why this subject? I waited for some resolve, but it never came. Had a few good moments, but over all, not for me. 2 stars.

  6. GaryLee828 Says:

    I finally watched this one, and I liked it pretty well. Nothing spectacular, or anything, but was decent. I was very impressed w/ JGL’s performance; so funny watching him portray the uber wussy Tom in “500DOS” and then seeing him portray a womanizer here. JGL’s a great actor.

  7. “Don Jon is a peculiar film.”

    Sorry you feel this way! I really loved this movie. Are you over 40? I ask because I felt like it was meant for a 15-40 demographic. I laughed so much in this movie…

    • If that’s the case then the MPAA didn’t get the memo and should have rated this PG-13. But regardless of that fact, your statement is so random to me.

      I’m not sure what age has to do with one‘s ability to enjoy a movie, but I’ll just leave you with this: Martin Scorsese is 71 years old. 🙂

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