Review: Don Jon
CAUTION: MILD SPOILERS
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a star that is rising due to his ability to play many diverse roles. It isn't unheard of to hear a well-known actor decides to take up the directing chair, but it is frequently met with a wide array of feedback. Most will either feel that said star should stick to acting and leave directing to, well, directors. In the case of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's writing and directorial debut, it is a solid entry into his impressive resume. Not only is Don Jon impressively shot with solid dialogue, but it also carries with it an equally impressive message about today's affect that media has on our generations relationships. In this sense, you could say that Joseph Gordon-Levitt's main influence in terms of story telling and directing would be that of Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man). Some will even see this film solely because of the trailer having a similar kind of music video type of pacing and feel to it in comparison to 500 Days of Summer. Granted, this film is much more edgy then it that may rub a few people the wrong way.
The plot follows Jon (Gordon-Levitt) who is a very simple, yet pretentious, man. He has a few things that he cares about such as his pad, his boys, his family, his ride, his body, his church, girls and his porn. Jon is very much a player as we are shown frequently that when he goes to clubs he only looks for women that he and his friends grade on a scale from 1 to 10. Jon refuses to lower his standards below an "8" and if he deems a woman worthy of the great Jon then he hits on them to the point where they feel lucky to be able to go back to his place to have sex with him. Yet, he never feels a connection to any of these women and every single time after hooking up with these women he has to hurry to his computer for his pornography. Jon begins to slowly change his ways when he meets Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson) who he views as being a sacred be all and end all 10. However, she turns down his attempts at the club forcing him to resort to Facebook to find her. The two end up dating and slowly but surely she begins to control him making him into a guy she deems worthy.
Jon begins to change at first slowly, as Barbara tries to get him to better himself, for starters by going to school. Here he meets an older woman who is just as troubled, but in a completely different and much more tragic way. The two are on two completely different spectrum of each other but come to a understanding of one another. Jon is then forced with realizing his short comings and deciding whether he wants something that is more substantial or just continuing his "player status" with little to no connection with the women that he brings home every night.
Joseph Gordon Levitt was the star of the movie, both in front of it and behind. He completely owned the role of a New Jersey "Jersey Shore" kind of man that loves to party and get women. It is a little jarring how his character is so pretentious, arrogant and yet thanks in large part to his ability as an actor, we still find ourselves liking him when we really shouldn't. As for Scarlett Johansson, I heard that she gave her best performance of her career in this film before I saw it and maybe because of that expectation, I think she fell flat a little bit. Now, to be clear, she pulled of the New Jersey accent perfectly and the attitude. Having been around people from the area and having family from there, it was impressive to see this two actors completely embody the state and act accordingly. As for her performance though, she was perfect for the role but I feel that people will still generally like her in the movie due to her looks. She didn't do awful by any means. She had great on-screen chemistry with Gordon-Levitt but this role is catered to her so I can't say it is a great performance when it is more of a caricature. Tony Danza does a terrific job in the role of Jon's father, and he actually is credible in the role due to the fact that he looks like he could be his father. The one character that I would say is a complete throwaway would be Brie Larson's Monica who is Jon's sister. The entire time she sits on her phone bored with the situation unfolding in front of her and only has one line the entire movie.
As for the message of the movie, it is a bit overplayed at times but still it is very effective in getting it across. The message is clearly that of how media today can negatively alter the way we view the opposite sex and hurt us moving forward into future relationships. Due to the increased amount of sex on television and showing off of women's curves, this leads to the degradation of women in the eyes of men. Whereas, all romantic movies and television shows have a tendency to make women think men have to act a certain way. Frequently in today's generation you will find in younger couples at least that women due try to control their man and as a result the man becomes a shell of his former self. Overall, this was an entertaining movie that I would recommend to others despite how crass and pretentious it can be at times.