Friday, August 16, 2013

Review: Don Jon

Release date: September 27, 2013
Running time: 90 minutes
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza
Who to see it with: A fan of the Jersey Shore


Don Jon is Joseph Grodon-Levitt's writing and directorial debut, and what a great debut it is. Don Jon tells the story of Jon (JGL), a man with a few things in his life he loves, such as his body, his pad, his car, his boys, etc. All this changes when he meets Barbara (Johansson) and he starts to reevaluate his priorities. If it sounds like a typical romantic dramady, it's because it is. Don Jon cleverly makes fun of Hollywood movie relationships while also following the framework closely. It's a delicate line that the movie follows excellently, with some adaptations for more modern issues and less committed relationships. There are clever little touches throughout the movie that help remind you of the subject matter it's mocking, such as a romance movie-style (or Disney-style) musical cue when Jon first sees Barbara.

The main draw of this movie is Gordon-Levitt's great performance. Although initially, he appears to be playing just a Jersey Shore clone, his portrayal is far more complex than that. He plays a man who has everything in his life in order--great body, spotless apartment, good friends--but doesn't really know what is important. Jon is so put together, yet doesn't understand much about his emotions and motivations. The rest of the cast is also spectacular. Johansson is sexy and very Jersey as Barbara, though some of her twist lines seem out of place or out of context. Moore is amazing as always and Danza is a nice surprise as Jon's father. 

This movie is JGL's writing debut, and I was pleasantly surprised that the writing is sharp and funny. The conversations and jokes are especially enjoyable in the family situations and in the church scenes. Also, JGL shows his writing chops by writing both hilarious moments with the guys along with more introspective, touching moments as Jon's character progresses throughout the film. Don Jon is an over-the-top relationship movie that both taunts typical, manufactured Hollywood romances while managing to provide it's own surprisingly deep relationship advice. If Dr. Pepper was marketing it, it would be the guy's romantic comedy. It's an excellent debut and hopefully the first of many films from Gordon-Levitt.

See it.

It definitely is the guy's romantic comedy. Viewers may be surprised by the frequent pornography clips and masturbation discussions. They were apparently too much for one couple that left our screening after ten minutes. If you're willing to accept these glimpses into the dirtier side of Jon's life that is often kept behind closed doors, you'll be rewarded with a smart romantic comedy that both mocks and embraces the genre. Expected events happen, but in ways that don't feel artificial. Like David said, there's a time when Barbara's lines seem to come out of nowhere but, this being a guy's romantic comedy, it could reflect the ways in which actual significant others suddenly reveal their unexpected, unflattering aspects. If the movie were told from Barbara's perspective, there's a turning point with Jon that would seem just as sudden to someone with her mindset. Some may be put off by the in-your-face sexuality of the first act, but even they will be pleasantly surprised by the time Don Jon reaches its climax.

See it.

1 comment:

  1. Nice review, looking forward to checking this one out. Refreshing to read that this is a rom com with a male perspective, for a change.