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Don Jon: A New Take on the Rom-Com

October 3, 2013

Don Jon movie poster

Don Jon is a breath of fresh air. It plays with conventions, introduces three dimensional characters and is suitably rough around the edges. It has a personality that stems from Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s clear vision and direction.

On the surface Don Jon is about a guy who loves women, porn, cars, alcohol, muscles and his family. What you don’t know is there is a lot of truth hidden behind the sleeveless shirts, Scarlett Johansson’s form-fitting clothes and Brie Larson’s texting. Young people who think they are more mature have false expectations whether they be from porn, movies or television. Romantic comedies serve a purpose but they are about as believable as Rocky Balboa absorbing 1,700 punches to the head in Rocky. To emulate porn or a romantic comedy your relationship is bound to be doomed. The same goes for expecting first time sex to be like it is in porn. Don Jon complains about his conquests because he thinks they should emulate the professionals who get paid to entertain folks via sex. Neither male nor female can live up to those expectations and that lesson is learned later in life. Don Jon is about learning that lesson, growing up and becoming vulnerable.

Don Jon centers around people in relationships that benefit themselves. What I like about  DJ and JGL’s  other gem 500 Days of Summer is that both of the characters are wrong. The relationships are not black and white and the break ups leave the characters believably wiser than before. The films revolve around characters who have their own agendas. Don Jon doesn’t want to give up his porn which keeps him from connecting with women. Scarlett wants to change men to her liking instead of appreciating them for who they are.

There is a fantastic scene in which Scarlett dry humps (reminded me of Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher except less evil and more subtle) her way into getting Don back to night school and introducing her to his family and friends. JGL loves his “dime piece” and allows himself to molded to her liking while he hides his guilty pleasures from her. Enter Julianne Moore who catches him watching porn in class. The two form an uneasy alliance that pays off in ways I won’t mention.

I did think that Moore was a little too readily available. She doesn’t fall into the trappings of manic pixie woman (Garden State, Elizabethtown) but does feel a bit like a plot device. The pay off is wonderful and her performance is solid but her story feels rushed and the finale isn’t entirely earned. Much like the movies Jon complains about Don Jon glides into a Hollywood ending. However, The script, acting and direction make it more palatable. Another thing that helps is that JGL is learning the directing ropes and will eventually nail the ending. For a first time director he managed to tell a confident story that snuck into the mainstream and may teach people a few things.

The best moments in this film are little moments that define character. Watching Tony Danza hold a beer in one hand and a television remote in the other. Hearing Jon say “I love you wearing that sh**” in regards to Johansson wearing business clothes. I also loved the fake movie posters.

Watch Don Jon. Appreciate the first time directing effort. Enjoy the posters.

Don Jon fake movie posters

so hard so fast don jon movie poster

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