Sunday, July 06, 2014

Movie Review - Don Jon

Don Jon (2013)
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Glenne Headley, Brie Larson, and Tony Danza
Directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

It's tough to feel bad for a guy who's screwing Scarlett Johannson I've come to discover after watching Joseph Gordon-Levitt's feature film directorial and screenwriting debut Don Jon.  Gordon-Levitt is Jon, a tough-around-the-edges New Jersey pretty boy who charms the undergarments right off women mere hours after meeting them.  Each weekend Jon and his two buddies head to the local club and each weekend Jon goes home without a different hottie.  One evening, however, he meets Barbara (Johannson) and is instantly taken by her despite the fact that she won't immediately sleep with him.  Barbara ends up changing Jon's lothario ways...or so she thinks.  Despite Jon exclusively sleeping with her, Jon is unhealthily addicted to online pornography so much so that it has warped his mind into being unable to have a normal relationship.

Don Jon is played for laughs and perhaps that's where the problem with the film comes into play.  There are never really any moments that are purposely driven to make you laugh out loud, yet the film never takes Jon's addiction serious enough to make you feel pity for the guy.  In fact, rather than feel sympathy for his addiction, we start to pity his relationship with Barbara who becomes more controlling as their courtship continues.  Ultimately, this proves to be a bit unsatisfying for the viewer as we flailingly strive to connect with Jon in a way that makes us root for his success.

Gordon-Levitt deepens his voice and picks up a thick Jersey accent to play the title character and he certainly embodies the persona.  Unfortunately, even towards the end when conversations with an older woman (played by Julianne Moore) try to get him to come to grips with his addiction, we can't sympathize with the guy.  Maybe it's because he's got ladies like Barbara fawning over him who, in Jon's own words, is a ten.  [That would be on a scale of one to ten with ten being the best, for those mathematically challenged.]  Johannson also does a nice job with the Jersey attitude (although her portrayal seems a tinge more like a caricature than Gordon-Levitt's) and she certainly plays the part of a sexy tease quite well.  Despite some cute moments of dialogue between the two, though, Gordon-Levitt's screenplay never really had me squarely in their camp hoping for their success.  Maybe it's an unconscious jealousy on my part -- "seriously, he's screwing Scarlett Johannson and still has to look at porn to get his jollies?" -- but something just didn't coalesce for me.

While I'd be interested to see what else "Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the Non-Actor" has down the pike, Don Jon is a bit too generic in both its script and its direction to really showcase any fantastic talent the fine young actor has behind the camera.

The RyMickey Rating:  C

4 comments:

  1. I was hoping for 2 hours of this:
    https://screen.yahoo.com/mikes-marbleopolis-050000761.html

    (what is yahoo screen, anyway? why are all the snl skits I want only available there? how does embedding and also this internet thing work?)

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  2. I was totally and utterly confused as to why this was posted as I started watching this...and then with a minute left, I realized the reason. Scarlett certainly maintains that accent throughout...but I enjoy her when she goes all New Joisey or New Yawk (I think it's because she still manages to exude a sexiness while doing it, rather than a Snooki-like trashiness. That's right, there's a Jersey Shore reference just about five years too late to have any relevance.)

    Also, on another note, the next skit that came on yahoo screen (which I had never heard of either) was a Sarah Palin rap that made this Republican laugh out loud as well.

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  3. Oh yes. I remember (and just re-watched) that one. What's not to love about Amy Poehler? Nothing. Nothing is not to love.

    veering off here, but this is my most memorable political skit from that time:
    https://screen.yahoo.com/palin-hillary-open-000000256.html

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  4. I totally need to watch Parks and Rec...I feel like I'm negligent on the comedy side of my tv viewing habits.

    (Side Note: After I watched the Poehler/Fey video, "D**k in a Box" was listed. My twelve year old inner child laughs uproariously every time I watch that clip. It's probably a guy thing...I don't know...)

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