Directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
A New Jersey guy dedicated to his family, friends, and church, develops unrealistic expectations from watching porn and works to find happiness and intimacy with his potential true love.
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★★★½ review by Katie on Letterboxd
when brie larson finally spoke and saved greasy sausage boy... cinema was reborn
★★★½ review by Ciara on Letterboxd
A balancing act if ever there was one, Joseph Gordon Levitt wants to make both a romance movie and a satire of the romance movie, and by golly methinks he does succeed.
First and foremost, the movie is entertaining as anything I watched this year. Don Jon is a shallow character interested only in surface level life - his body, his pad, his car, his girls, his church, his porn. Barbara, the ideal girl for Don Jon, is likewise shallow: she searches for meaning as prescribed by the Hollywood romance. What she wants is not intimacy, but showmanship. Both Gordon-Levitt and Johansson deliver excellent performances, both walking a tight rope and neither faltering for an instant.
The supporting cast is great (I really wish Brie Larson had been given more to do, but she does give brilliant reaction shots). Of course Tony Danza is wonderful. Of course he is. And if you need a shot of crazy grounded warmth, there's no better actress out there than Julianne Moore.
It's an exciting debut from one of the most charming actors around: Gordon-Levitt is a smart cinephile who manages to turn the romance movie cliches to his own liking through a good script and some really nifty directing choices: we get the mysterious golden glow around Scarlet Johansson, we get the 360 kissing scene, the abrupt change of song as their eyes first meet. He's smart, and his movie has something interesting to say about the vapid and overblown expectations we are all guilty of thanks to our consumption of media - whether it be through romance movies or pornography or whatever your poison of choice.
★★★½ review by Larry on Letterboxd
Movies and porn are different, Jon. They give awards for movies.
They give awards for porn too....
The name of the game in Don Jon is flashy repetition. There are only a few things the main character loves. His girls. His pad. His fitness. His ride. His church. His family. His porn. He wakes up, tidies his apartment, brushes his teeth, goes to church, hits the gym, goes to the club, gets laid, watches porn.
Rinse and repeat.
He wakes up. Ass. He brushes his teeth and tidies his apartment. Legs. He sits in church then hits the gym. Tits. Goes to the club and takes home a girl. Sex. Porn. Moneyshot. Tissues.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt wrote, directed, and starred in this drama, comedy, romance type thing that resembles a raunchy sex filled comedy but also like an erotic chick flick. The film, Don Jon, is an impressive debut feature that comes with the typical flaws associated with first time film makers but ultimately ends up being a nice little excursion from the years comedy lineup so far. If you've ever watched interviews with JGL and if you're a fan of the films he's started in, you might go into this film like I did; not expecting something so dirty. He seems like such a sweet guy. You wouldn't imagine that this script came from that mind. The first half hour of this film I'm sure is going to make some uncomfortable moments for those doing a family movie night type thing.... Th movie basically opens with JGL crankin it to porn and ends with him cranking it on... Well.... I won't spoil that.
Don Jon, though highly entertaining and briskly utilizing its near perfect pacing, is a very confused film. The script is strong in dialogue but weak in direction. The repetition thematically plays an important role but eventually it kind of feels like its going nowhere despite it being dressed up like its racing for the finish line. JGL wrote a funny, quirky, raunchy little story that has its high points but you walk out feeling a little let down or confused. Like you have just been grinded on by a really hot chick then she smacks you and walks away. A lot of this has to do with some severe miscasting in very important roles. Its a small time story made for the small screen but huuuuuge stars are shoved into small characters. Its almost like JGL hammered out his dream script and just blindly castes the roles without factoring in simple things. Scarlett Johansson is sexy as hell in this film, but she just doesn't play or look like a Jersey Shore type girl. Julianne Moore is also horribly cast in a role that is sweet, and allows for some major development but it just... Doesn't work.... And finally, (I'm a dead man for saying this) Joseph Gordon-Levitt himself is a tad miscast. I get the allure of the starring-writing-directing triumvirate but the character of Don Jon just doesn't match what we see. If he didn't have money, and quirky indie films under his belt, I think JGL would be a pretty goofy looking guy. Definitely not one that is a Guido alpha male club hopper. I heard a reviewer call him "buff" and I laughed out loud.
He has frog legs for arms.
So you've got frog leg armed fake accented JGL acting Italian at a dinner table with over exaggerated Jersey Girl ScarJo and a tan Tony Danza who looks like an angry veined hot dog. Its a film of colorful, mismatched characters.
But I still really liked it.
Its impossible not to be entertained by this. The script is hilarious, the directing strong and the narrative is napalm. The story starts to feel like its running in place but its still running. Its a rep. A splash. A thrust. A stroke. Its got editing and dazzling pacing that makes it feel like a love letter to Scorsese but sexing it up a bit with a splash of cheap cologne and hair product. Joseph Gordon-Levitt's first film is a fun, energetic, but strange film that gets a little sloppy but guarantees that you will never be bored.
Any film maker would be glad to get to touch, kiss, and rub on this during the making of their first film, so I bet in his heart that makes JGL feel like an Oscar Winner. Don Jon may not be perfect and will likely be seen as a learning experience if anything, but its still a smart little film about addiction, relationships, self value and love.
Lots of porn.
★★★½ review by Evan on Letterboxd
Scarlett Johansson......Marry me please.
But seriously this was a solid first film from the talented actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The movie isn't perfect, but I enjoyed it. I laughed a lot more than I thought I was going to. Don Jon is fun, quirky, and extremely original. The performances were also very good. JGL is very good, as he usually is. He is one of my current favorite working actors. Scarlett Johansson was also impressive. She was able to draw me in with her charm and beauty. Julianne Moore's character was a big surprise; she was really great! This was one of the most original films I've seen in quite some time. A real breath of fresh air! I always like myself a good dramedy!
Overall Don Jon is a very solid start for JGL. I hope he keeps it up, and continues to improve!
★★★½ review by Esteban Gonzalez on Letterboxd
"For these, and all the sins in my life, I am sorry."
I found Don Jon to be a solid feature debut from Joseph Gordon Levitt as a director who also starred in and wrote the original screenplay for this raunchy romantic comedy. He's a very talented actor, but here he gets to prove his skills as a director and a writer as well. This isn't your typical rom-com and it will probably make you feel uncomfortable from the start because it is not a family film. The writing may have some flaws and at times you may feel like JGL is hammering his message way too much, but I thought he was going for a similar style that Scorsese went for in The Wolf of Wall Street in which several excesses were repeated over and over again to make a point. I found it rather funny that despite how much the message was hammered many people still didn't get the point of the film which was much more than pointing out that pornography is a dangerous addiction that affects relationships. Yes, that is one of the messages behind this film which shows hoy pornography can affect intimacy in a relationship by turning sex into something unilateral. It's about what I can receive from a relationship instead of losing oneself in the other and actually experimenting what love really means. But the film explores much more than pointing out the dangers of pornography addiction. It also is about how disconnected we've become as a society. JGL's character is disconnected due to his addiction, his girlfriend believes love is all about the other person giving up everything for her (which is something she's learned from the rom-coms she eats up almost on a daily basis), which also turns her into someone who is looking for love in a unilateral form, his father is obsessed with sports and if his son isn't interested he doesn't consider him to be a real man, his mother is desperate for him to find a girl so she can be a grandmother, and his sister is completely disconnected and spends almost the entire film speechless on her cellphone. But despite how dysfunctional everyone is in this family, somehow the only person that really sees that Jon's relationship isn't a solid one is his sister who notices what everyone else doesn't see about Jon's girlfriends. By doing this I felt that JGL was pointing out that even that person that seems more disconnected than the rest of society might surprise us. We tend to see the problems in others, but we rarely look at our own defects. Don Jon may hammer its message, but it is not just about Jon's addiction with pornography, there is much more to it.
The story centers on - and is narrated by - Jon (Joseph Gordon Levitt), better known to his friends as Don Jon for his ability to conquer women. In his voice over narration he tells us that the only things he cares about in life are his body, his pad, his ride, his car, his family which includes his father Jon Sr. (Tony Danza), his mother Angela (Glenne Neadly) and his sister Monica (Brie Larson), his church, his boys Bobby (Rob Brown) and Danny (Jeremy Luke), his girls, and his porn. He spends a great deal of his time on these things, he visits his family frequently, he works out in the gym daily, he spends time at the club with his boys looking for women and rating them on the 10 point scale, he goes to church every week and confesses his sins to the priest, and most of all he watches porn and loses himself in it. He confesses that he enjoys it even more than actual sex, but he has evidently developed unrealistic expectations from it. One night at the club, he meets Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson) and completely falls in love with her, but he continues to struggle finding true intimacy with her and building a strong relationship. Along the way he meets a fellow student named Esther (Julianne Moore) who sort of opens his eyes about love and relationships.
Despite the fact that Shame explored a similar theme recently, it's a subject we rarely see in films. Don Jon is a real exploration of modern relationships and how they've been affected from the way media and films sell sex everywhere. We are bombarded with sexual images in the media all the time creating one sided expectations about love and sex and the film opens by presenting several of these images sort of setting the tone for the rest of the movie. JGL plays a very different role from what we are used to seeing him in and he also worked out a lot for it. HIs character follows a certain routine in life, and the film makes sure it repeats this to get the point across. There are a lot of interesting points this film raises and it really is a comedy with a strong message about how disconnected we've become. The performances in this film were all solid.
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