Don Jon is a man’s movies. It is, for all intensive purposes, THE man’s movie. To women who have ever wondered how “manly men” talk, act, interact, rationalize, and think about everyday things when no woman is around… Don Jon is your window into that world. But don’t misinterpret that, for this film contains valuable lessons for both sexes. Brace yourselves ladies and gents for the quasi-romantic comedy that is Don Jon.
The film follows the life of Jon Martello, played with facetious gusto by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception, Looper, 500 Days of Summer, The Dark Knight Rises) who also wrote and directed the film. Jon, nicknamed “the Don” by his two best friends for his ability to get any girl he wants, is your stereotypical Italian-bred macho man. He has slick black hair, he constantly hits the gym, has an egregious temper, and loves his “ride” and his “pad”… yet he is also an avid church goer and a devoted son and brother. He does however, have one not so little quirk; His excessive love of pornography. And when I say excessive, I mean EXCESSIVE.
From there we have our story. Jon affectively goes day to day, navigating through his addiction to live the seemingly normal bachelor life. That is until the vivaciously sexy Barbara Sugarman comes into the picture (Could there have been a better cast here than Scarlett Johansson? I think not). In Barbara, he finds his first challenge; a woman who won’t give it up on the first night and, more importantly, a woman who finds his favorite pastime to be revolting and unacceptable.
This movie hysterically deals with the awkward connection between men and pornography. But wedged within the hilarious moments is valuable commentary about the unrealistic and unhealthy nature with which our society approaches relationships. Jon’s relationship with Barbara is a prime example of how men can mistake overwhelming desire for genuine love. He changes for her, for better and worse, not because he has a genuine connection, but because she is more difficult to obtain than the rest. Julianne Moore is also magnificent as Jon’s troubled night classmate, who gets him to question whether his addiction might be distorting his views toward woman and real romantic interaction. Women should also be weary of becoming Johansson’s Barbara, a narrow minded “princess” (thanks to romantic comedies) who desires a man to manipulate into her own distorted vision of perfection. Her character also pokes holes in the common misconception that “holding out” is an effective way to ensure that men will fall for you or even respect you more in the long run.
Sure the film’s characters can seem over the top at times. But it’s a comedy. And In 2013, it’s almost unbelievable that there are movie concepts out there that have never really been touched in any medium. Low and behold, it is a film about men’s love of porn that brings us a story and perspective that we have seldom seen, but one that is without a doubt worth telling. Enjoy the laughs, but be sure to pay attention along the way.
FINAL GRADE: A-