Don Jon – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

don jonDon Jon – 3.5/5 – Joseph Gordon Levitt; he is an actor in the prime of his career.  With many hits like Looper, 50/50 and Inception, he is making a name for himself.  Taking that step forward, he goes behind the chair and not only actors but directs his first full length feature.  With a few kinks and mishaps, I believe this is a decent job for a first time director.  Playing on the themes of modernism, social worth and image, Don Jon is a hysterical and sometimes sarcastic film that will show that sometimes status isn’t the way to love, but it is more than just that.

Premise: A New Jersey guy (Jon) is dedicated to his family, friends, and church.  He also develops unrealistic expectations from watching porn.  Because of this, he works to find happiness, which can ultimately be that potential of true love.

In the lead of the main role of Jon is Joseph Gordon Levitt.  In this role, he gives us a straight up, muscled out, focused individual who is dedicated to family, work, cleanliness and church.  The other thing he is really dedicated to is watching porn.  This latter infatuation is the driving force of both, his characterization and progression of the movie.  The allure of porn creates a layer that contradicts all his feelings/beliefs, which makes his acting frantic with his interactions; which include his family, friends and women he comes in contact with for ‘sexual’ endeavors.  He has bravado of being called the ‘don’ among those who know him, but with ‘status’, it also creates a flawed individual.  In this flaw, Jon is trying to find some completeness.  With this layered complexion, his acting is both riveting and realistic.  This causes an image of ‘self’ that some can relate on, because of the ‘modern’ infatuations.  Opposing him as the ladies of his ‘love life’, we have Scarlett Johansson as Barbara and Julianne Moore as Esther.  Johansson does an amazing job as Barbara, creating a superficial Jersey Girl, who has an obsession for ‘self worth’, that is shallow and cringing.  The image obsessed girl creates an opposites attract situation for Jon, causing interactions that delve into themes that are applicable to ‘obsession with modernism’ as well as ‘appeal for companionship’.  The flirtation is whimsical, but also borders on exaggerations that can be cheesy, but at the same time welcomed.  Moore’s Esther is the complete opposite of Barbara, as she has more ‘smarts’ about relationships.  With this mentality as well as a deeper value for life, it helps provide a moral rod for Jon.  Her interaction with him gives the appeal of a different kind of love, because of her ‘down to earth’ personality.  Moore does a wonderful job in creating a character that compliments Jon, and provides a more ‘dramatic’ relief to the ‘satirical’ interaction from Barbara.  With the rest of the supporting cast, you have the family of Jon, the friends, as well as other unrelated bystanders that help progress the film along.  These supporting cast aren’t as deep or invigorating as the main three, but they help add the same kind of comedic flavor of modern society, but not overtly exaggerative as Jon or Barbara.

The direction is very straight forward.  In the beginning, you get introduced to Jon and his normal routine in his life; cleaning his house, going to church, eat dinner with family on Sundays and his daily exercises.  Through this introduction, we also get the basis of the film; Jon’s complete obsession with porn.  In the beginning, it is ‘overtly’ forced upon you, beating you over the head that this guy can’t break this addiction with porn.  At times, it does seem to dull the senses, which counters some of the satirical and dark comedic elements that happen between Jon and his boys at the club.  Even for this mishap, you still are endeavored to see how Jon’s character evolves.  The movie also moves pretty quickly after establishing its motive, and we are then thrust into the ‘relationship’ part of the film, as Jon meets Barbara.  Here, we get the cheesy/typical romantic pseudo situations, as we see a ‘love’ that is both cliché, and borderline cheesy.  Outside of the typical movie quips, we also get a layer of satire, which plays on the social stereotypes of status, worth and materialism.  This adds some hysterical situations, as well as creates a deeper conflict within Jon.  This conflict (as mentioned above in the character description) is between him trying to find worth in his love life.  This is why he has obsession with porn; and we see how it conflicts with his sex life.  As we start to see some unraveling between Jon and Barbara, we see a development of some kind of relationship begin to happen between Jon and Esther.  This situation is more ‘down to earth’, which helps shifts the tone of the film.  Even as the tone shifts, it never conflicts to the overall arching themes of the film.  As we wind through these relationship struggles, the film heads quickly into the third act.  Here, we see the film quickly wrap up; through an ‘epiphany’ scenario of Jon, that leads to some closure to his obsessions as well as answers to his self worth.

The visuals aren’t anything to scream ‘amazing’ over, but the modern take of everything helps envelope some realism to the film.  The score isn’t important, but it is something to make note of.

Don Jon is a film that plays upon the flaws of social class, worth and structure, but does it in a way that is cheesy, entertaining and hysterically awesome.  The satire in the script is at its finest when the film focuses on Jon and Barbara, but the shifting to a dramatic feel is a welcomed shift between Jon and Esther.  There are some obvious flaws, as well as cliché and convenient plot devices, but overall, this film is pure enjoyment.  If you’re a fan of JGL or want to have some fun, check this film out.

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