What could have turned into a smut filled sex romp comedy actually has something to say in this fine little film by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Being in the entertainment business for many years and having been in so many blockbuster films of late (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Looper), JGL hits his stride in a coming of age dramedy that never gets too heavy handed yet has plenty to say about the salacious nature of porn and its affects on human relationships.
Jon is a player. He has his way with women and he can turn on the charm at the drop of a hat. But for some reason, he prefers porn to the company of real women. In an explanation that is as honest as any on film, Don addresses his reasons for enjoying porn and asserts that he can change whenever he wants too but…he doesn’t WANT to. So he continues his weekly grind of working out, hanging with his boys, visiting his family (played by Tony Danza, Glenne Headly and a scene stealing Brie Larson) and going to church where he confesses his “sins” every Sunday. Oh…and bedding any woman who is ready and willing.
All is going well until he meets a “dime,” or the perfect woman. Scarlett Johansson is Barbara, a scene-stealing, gum-chewing ball of sexuality that makes Don purr. She attempts to rope him in, molding him into the man she wants him to be (which is a lot like the perfect men she sees in the movies) BEFORE she sleeps with him. This, in turn, slows the movie a bit as the trap is set. But she catches him watching porn and this sets the wheels in motion for Don to change his life. He is looking for something more than what he has found so far and it’s not until he meets an older student in his evening class (played by Julianne Moore) that he learns about how meaningful sex and love can be. She has recently lost her husband and son and it’s in her performance that “Don Jon” becomes something more than just another drama about the failure of men to grow and understand the opposite sex and more about the importance of feeling comfortable in a relationship with someone else.
Everyone involved with this movie is fantastic and I enjoyed a lot of it. It does slow a little bit in the middle, sagging just enough to lull you into wondering where it’s going and then when the final act takes place, it’s all that more powerful. Is “Don Jon” a great movie? No. But it DOES have a lot to say and it says it effectively without becoming preachy. I recommend it for a matinee viewing and it IS rated R for a reason. There are a lot of scenes (although not X-rated graphic) of nudity and sex and some foul language. It’s not for the young and if you are offended by such, I would avoid it. But underneath the hardcore exterior, this film is a love story about a man trying to find someone who completes him. And in the end…that’s all we all really want…isn’t it?
Overall Rating: B+