Don Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) only cares about a few things. His body. His pad. His ride. His family. His church. His boys. His girls. And his porn. Honestly, he probably cares about that last item more than any of the other. It’s not that he can’t get women. He definitely has no problems with that. But real women don’t do the things they do in porn, so it’s not as satisfying. Most of the time, after the women fall asleep, he heads for his laptop.
Then Jon met Barbara (Scarlett Johansson). She is the perfect woman. A “10.” Jon would do anything for Barbara. This includes going to night school so he can get a “real” job and not cleaning his own apartment, which Jon takes pride in doing. When Barbara catches Jon partaking in his favorite activity, she blows up. Porn is a deal breaker for her. So Jon gives it up. Kind of. He is just more careful about where he watches it. Sometimes, doing so on his phone before class. Until he is caught by Esther (Julianne Moore), one of his classmates.
Jon’s mother, Angela (Glenne Headley) is ecstatic that her son has finally found “the one.” Jon Sr. (Tony Danza) is skeptical. Until he meets Barbara. Because she’s hot. Jon’s sister Monica (Brie Larson) sits idly by, saying nothing.
When Barbara catches Jon watching porn again, she realizes he has been lying to her the whole time. Jon takes a deep look at himself and his addiction and must decide who he really is.
Don Jon is the male equivalent of a chick flick. I’m not saying that it’s sappy and cheesy and women will love it. (It is kind of all of those things, but it’s also not.) What I mean is this is a chick flick made from a man’s point of view. It deals honestly with what guys go through. From looking at their habits to women trying to change who they are. It is probably one of the few films that actually take this approach. To make a “chick flick” made for guys instead of a chick flick that guys will tolerate for their girlfriend/wife. And it works exceptionally well. And it’s funny. Really funny.
While I knew that the film sort of centered around Don Jon’s porn addiction, I was more than a little surprised at just how prevalent his activities were throughout the film. And I mean in every scene. It’s not gratuitous. I mean, it is, simply by its nature. But it is essential to the story. And, again, it’s funny.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt pulls off the perfect Jersey douchebag. He’s got the look, the accent, the attitude, all of it down perfectly. ScarJo also plays the Jersey girl like it’s second nature. Glenne Headley and Tony Danza are great as Jon’s parents. I don’t know if Tony Danza is acting, or if this is who he really is. I’m guessing it’s a little of both, but he really pulls off his character. And it’s obvious that Tony has spent a lot of time at the gym lately. And I don’t think he’s had a carb since Who’s the Boss. I was tempted to write off Brie Larson as the sister. After all, how hard is it to sit silently and roll your eyes? But she makes it work, especially when it counts. The whole cast gels well together. I would feel bad not mentioning Julianne Moore, but she’s a seasoned veteran, and it shows.
I will say, it is probably not a film fit to bring a first date to. Or your mom. Uncomfortable wouldn’t even begin to describe how that experience might be.
I have to admit, Don Jon is much better than I expected. It is rare that a film written and directed by the star of the film comes off so successfully. It is even more impressive coming from JGL. He shows that he has more talent many expect. (He even got his production company HitRecord Flms involved in the film. What can’t this kid do?)
Don Jon is a hilarious film that actually has heart. And it’s made for guys. Turn the tables and make your significant other watch a guy flick for a change. It’s your turn.