Don Jon

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don jon

Joseph Gordon-Levitt shows he’s a triple threat with Don Jon.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a porn addict that’s also a womanizer. He wrote, directed, and starred in this derivative film, in his first time behind the camera. It’s just a tad clumsy in the “male take” on romantic comedies.

The movie Shame was an overrated and disappointing movie about sex addiction. It had great cinematography and a nice performance from Michael Fassbender.

Choke was a disappointing movie about a sex addict, with a great performance by Sam Rockwell.

This movie is slightly better than both, although it gets rather repetitive.

Jon is an Italian-Catholic, who hangs out at clubs with his boys, where they rate women and try to take them home (it seems only he’s successful at that last part). Since he watches porn up 10 times day, he also does a lot of confessing at church each week.

There are also the Sunday dinners with his folks. Both Jon and his dad (Tony Danza), sit around eating in their wife beater T-shirts, and seemingly trying to recreate the dinner scenes in Saturday Night Fever.

I hope Danza gets props for this role, because he was better than the overly praised Andrew Dice Clay in Blue Jasmine.

The mother is played by Glenne Headly (Mr. Holland’s Opus), who improves every movie she’s in. I want her to play all the mother/wife characters Teri Garr played in the ‘70s. She keeps nagging her son to find the right girl, settle down, and give her some grand kids. When he meets Barbara Sugarman (“Is she a Jew?” yells Danza), it looks like she might get her wish.

Just like Shame, we never really get the insight into why this character is so addicted to porn. He might make a few good points when discussing it (“What guy doesn’t enjoy porn?”). Yet I’m guessing most men watching the movie would be wondering – why are you logging on to view porn when Scarlett Johansson is in the other room? One, it’s Scarlett Johansson. Two, if you have a woman sleep over for the first time, aren’t you on your best behavior? You make sure your house is clean, nothing is left out that you don’t want her to see, etc.

The movie gets a little more interesting once Jon struggles with his porn addiction and tries to stay in a real relationship with Barbara. Johansson is constantly chewing gum, as she nails the New Jersey/Jewish princess accent. You might cringe, feeling like you’re watching an episode of Jersey Shore.

You’ll be surprised you ever warm up to these goombahs.

In the criminally under seen The Lookout, Gordon-Levitt is a self-centered star athlete. He’s in an accident that leaves him brain-damaged. That makes it easier to sympathize. In this, he really just becomes a tad nicer as things sail along.

Part of the change comes from the fact that Julianne Moore is an older woman he meets at one of the college classes he’s taking. She gives her take on pornography and other life lessons.

Moore is the only character that isn’t one-dimensional. She cries at times, and has some baggage from her past…but she also doesn’t mind smoking a joint or messing around in the parking lot.

It was fun seeing Channing Tatum and Anne Hathaway in a goofy trailer for a love story Barbara wants to see, but that’s the type of joke we’ve seen in so many other movies. So often I was watching a scene thinking “They did that in Rabbit Hole.” Another time I thought, “Neil LaBute wrote a similar scene in one of his movies.”

And for every clever scene – like when Barbara and Jon debate the merits of realism in porn vs. corny romantic comedies she likes (She argues, “They give awards for movies.” He counters with, “They give awards for porn, too.”); that is followed by a scene we get 10 times in the movie – a soiled tissue being thrown into the waste basket.

As cool as his ’72 Chevelle is…we get clichéd scenes of him in it, either yelling at other drivers, or being caught singing while at a stoplight.

The movie gets more enjoyable as Moore slowly gets through to this gym rat. Also, the way he handles his break-up with Barbara shows signs of maturity. It would’ve just been better if his character was half as interesting as the loud-mouth palooka Tony Danza plays.

Some might be offended by the graphically explicit sex scenes or the stereotypes.

It’s a decent debut effort from Gordon-Levitt.

I’m giving it 3 stars out of 5.

5 comments

    • joshboardfox5

      Good accent, Mark. Usually I do the opposite. I will say all these things I liked about a movie, and then give it a mere two stars. It's weird how when you describe things, you sometimes tend to either pick the things you hated or dug about a movie and go with it. Basically with my stars, I rate ONLY ON ONE THING. And that is "how entertained was I by the movie." This was rather entertaining, but an extremely flawed movie in so many ways.

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