Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut “Don Jon” is certainly not appropriate for everyone and by everyone that means anyone who isn’t an 18-to-30-year-old male should probably find something better to do with his or her weekend. And if you’re looking for a date movie, certainly stay clear of this film unless it’s a bro date.
Levitt stars as Jon Martello, a Jersey-shore Guido addicted to pornography who only cares about a few things in life – his body, pad, car, family, girls, church and porn, mostly porn. It sounds an awful lot like an extended version of GTL. When we first meet Jon he’s portrayed as an over-the-top Jersey boy meathead. This caricature goes about his day in the gym, watching porn and hitting the club with his buddies where he famously has a streak of taking home a lady every night, hence the nickname his buddies bequeath him – Don.
The whole time Levitt’s voiceover explains his predicament; he enjoys porn more than he enjoys being with an actual woman. According to Jon, he can get lost in porn but as he describes it being with a living, breathing human being can be more work than it’s worth. However, things change when he meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) at the club – she actually succeeds in not going home with him.
The film becomes a little less ridiculous as the relationship plays out. Again, the stereotypes are a bit abrasive, but the two have chemistry. She catches him watching porn and is horrified. He promises to stop, but doesn’t. And, of course he’s caught again. But during the relationship we’re introduced to Jon’s family, which I presume would be an affront to most Italian Americans, but it’s funny – especially Tony Danza as Jon Jr.
Eventually, Jon messes everything up – always remember to delete your browsing history. But while Jon and Barbara were dating she convinced him to attend night classes – she wasn’t too fond of dating someone in the service industry – and he meets a middle-aged woman (Julianne Moore) who thankfully isn’t from the shore. Moore provides the only real sense of believability as a sympathetic albeit slightly sexually devious widow who provides Jon real advice on how to be with a woman.
The film deals with a real issue in pornographic addiction but ultimately it’s a bit too blunt showing Levitt in various self-love situations as the screen flashes too often to clips of pornography – it’s redundant and often uncomfortable. Jon, with the help of Moore’s character, learns that sex is an act between two people and that by caring you can actually get lost in another person. Though everything about the film is slightly ridiculous it touches on an issue that may become more prevalent in a day and age where access to computers is more readily available for youths and the reality of sexual relationships is skewed. As Moore explains to Jon, that’s not real sex and the dimwit’s head exploded with revelation.
“Don Jon” is a disappointment. There are some big laughs, but ultimately it’s all over the place. Levitt wrote, directed and stars in the film. He’s obviously talented, so the presumption is it’ll only get better from here. But this film isn’t worth the price of admission.
2 stars out of 5
“Don Jon” is rated R for strong graphic sexual material and dialogue throughout, nudity, language and some drug use.