Friday, September 27, 2013

Don Jon Movie Review

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson (r) star in Don Jon

A Jersey Boy at Heart

There's only a few things Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Don Jon really cares about: His body, his ride, his family, his church, his boys, his girls and his porn (in no particular order.) Actually that's not true, you could just as easily call Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut Don Porn: How else can you explain a guy who confesses as many as 30+ episodes of masturbation per week to his priest? Thankfully, Gordon-Levitt injects enough laughs and mischief to win over his audience long enough to ignore his movie's painfully dull finish.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a strong, handsome, good old-fashioned guy. His buddies call him Don Jon due to his ability to "pull" a different woman every weekend, but even the finest fling doesn't compare to the bliss he finds alone in front of the computer watching pornography. Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson) is a bright, beautiful, good old-fashioned girl. Raised on romantic Hollywood movies, she's determined to find her Prince Charming and ride off into the sunset. Wrestling with good old-fashioned expectations of the opposite sex, Jon and Barbara struggle against a media culture full of false fantasies to try and find true intimacy in this unexpected comedy written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

What’s Best: There's plenty of eye candy here (JGL for the ladies, and Scarlett for the rest of us) but I prefer to heap praise upon Jon Jr.'s family, led by Tony Danza who stops yelling long enough to ogle, kiss and touch his son's hot new girlfriend during their first "family dinner." Between his non-stop texting sister (Brie Larson) well-intentioned mother (Glenne Headly) and Danza, I could watch the Martello clan all day long. Danza and Gordon-Levitt's heated exchange over TiVo is priceless.

Gordon-Levitt's job is pretty straight forward; but Johansson turns in a stellar turn as a controlling "princess" who still has a Titanic poster in her bedroom. When she drags Jon to a night out at the movies ("Special Someone," starring Anne Hathaway and Channing Tatum) you quickly learn just how dreamlike her existence is. Scary... Scary good. Me likey Scarlett's edgier alter ego.

What’s Not: After about an hour of light-hearted hijinks, Don Jon turns into a less substantial Thanks for Sharing, complete with inner reflection, intermittent sobbing and more penance. Not sure where Gordon-Levitt wanted to take his audience; but I wish he had left us right back where we started. Even the first hour is void of any kind of feeling. Don't get me wrong: I dug the jokes, but I've had my fill of Jersey Shore for one lifetime.

Best Line: Jersey boys have a habit of "telling it like it is," and Jon Jr. is no exception. Most of it is vulgar, 'Why can't real pussy be this good?' and his condom endorsement, 'Unlike porn, real pussy can kill you.' But his best stuff comes during confession, such as his incredulous reaction to a full penance of 10 Our Fathers and Hail Marys for a good week, 'Can you tell me how you got to those numbers?'

Honorable mention goes to Johansson who purrs 'I can't let you come inside just yet,' as she puts on a clinic in manipulation, during a steamy hallway make-out session. On a side note, even I was ready to enroll in night school... if it meant pleasing the lovely Ms. J.

Overall: Don Jon is as mindless a movie as you're likely to find outside of the summer season; but don't get me wrong, it provides plenty of laughs... at least early on. Unfortunately it's a one-trick pony that relies on the good looks of its main characters to get you through the rough spots. The inclusion of Julianne Moore's character and her resulting relationship with Jon is clumsy and seems hopelessly out of place with the rest of the movie. I love Moore, but she seems shoehorned into this one. Great date movie for the 25 and under crowd: I'll find my jollies elsewhere.