Review: Don Jon
A stereotypical Jersey Shore player, named Jon and nicknamed ‘Don Jon,’ loves his ladies, his family, his faith, his gym, his bros, and his porn. Oh how he loves his porn. His online obsession interferes with his newfound relationship with a so-called ‘dime’ , even though he thinks it’s okay, and his Church gives him simple penance to atone. He also has some rage issues, and a weird family, and it all comes together in a way that forces Jon to change….maybe for the better.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt directs, writes, and stars as Jon, a tanned and groomed Casanova who thinks everything he does is the way it’s supposed to be done. Scarlett Johansson plays his love interest, while Julianne Moore later shows up as a woman unlike Jon has ever met. Tony Danza also shows up as Jon’s father, and he yells at the TV a lot.
Joseph Gordon Levitt’s directorial debut is a 90-minute assault on your senses and sensibilities. While he is convincing playing a stereotypical Jersey Shore ladies man obsessed with pornography and masturbation, Levitt as a director throws a lot of the things in the wall in the hopes that, forgive me, something will stick.
While some does, a fair amount doesn’t, but because the film doesn’t let up, inserting vocal and suggestive clips from adult videos, you’re not given much time to process. Levitt inserts commentary on Jersey shore life, Italian families, Catholic forgiveness, gender roles, love versus lust, bro-mance, anger, loss, guilt, and sexuality. Even as the film opens, Jon, who is occasionally likeable though rarely believable, says he only cares of few things in life before spewing off a lengthy list.
The final one, after family and friends and church, is porn. His habit, or addiction perhaps, has him enjoy the digital world more than the real one, a real one that includes a vixen played by Scarlett Johansson. When she stumbles upon his other love, however, she flips out and makes him swear he will never surf again.
Gordon-Levitt touches upon an interesting concept, but there is too much noise and adrenaline elsewhere in this often hysterical but often annoying debut. His father (Tony Danza) curses endlessly; his mother wants a grandchildren; his sister only texts; his best buds cruise clubs; his priest offers arbitrary penance. Jon also has road rage and atones at the gym. And that’s all before he is forced to take night school and ends up meeting a classmate (Julianne Moore) who embraces porn and sexuality. It’s exhausting.
There is meant to be meaning and growth, but just in case you don’t believe it or it doesn’t work, there is plenty to laugh at and laugh with. Jon’s character becomes more sympathetic as the movie progresses, but that’s only because Barbara is overbearing. They both start out as caricatures, as does Moore’s more free-spirited woman, and change is negible. It’s an auspicious debut and a memorable one, but not without many flaws.
Should You See It?
With a lot of good films coming down the pipe, this one can wait. Maybe watch it in the privacy of your home, late at night, when no one when catch you in the act.