Don Jon: Rated “PG-13” (1 hr. 30 min.)
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Brie Larson, Tony Danza
Directed by: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Jon Martello (Gordon-Levitt) is a strong, handsome, good old fashioned Jersey Shore, Italian, Roman Catholic kind of guy. He loves his family, his friends, his car, his apartment, his buddies, his women, and, well, his porn. His pals call him Don Jon due to his ability to “pull” a different woman every weekend. And these aren’t just any women, these are all wicked-hot, 8s, 9s, a&10s. (one of his pals points out, at one point in the film, that 2s and 3s are more open to trying new things, but that’s entirely besides the point. ). Still, as Jon himself is willing to admit, even the sexual conquest still doesn’t compare to the straight-up bliss that he finds alone sitting in front of his computer watching pornography.
Then one night Barbara Sugarman (Johansson) walks into his local club. She is a bright, beautiful, good old fashioned girl who gets Jon’s motor racing. Only, the difference between the two of them is that Barbara was raised on romantic Hollywood movies, and she’s totally determined to find her ideal Prince Charming and ride off into the sunset with him catering to her every whim. Now the issue at hand is that they each must spend the rest of the film wrestling with their own good old-fashioned expectations of the opposite sex. Meedless to say there is a huge amount of entertainment Watching as both Jon and Barbara struggle against a media culture full of false fantasies to try and find true intimacy.
For his part, Jon has never quite met a woman like Barbara, she is not only self-assured, but is gorgeous and totally know it. Plus she knows what she wants in life, and is bold enough to go after it. Further, she simply won’t put out on the first date, or to any guy who makes goo-goo eyes at her. Barbara, on the other hand, is as high maintenance as you can possibly imagine. As self-assured as she appears to be, she still needs a man fawning all over her to validate her beauty and worth; something that Jon is totally willing to do; only there is that porn “addiction” thing of his.
Not for nothing, Jon had a point, no matter how attractive, your woman is, she still won’t measure up to the willingness, enthusiasm, and gusto with which the women in porn videos throw themselves into their roles during the two-to-five minute clips that proliferate on the ‘net. Apparently, in real life girls aren’t so much into all the porn-star sexual positions that the girls on-line are oh-so willing to do (Doggie, cowboy, etc.). Real life girls want to face you — missionary style — and are more interested in getting than in giving oral than their on-line counterparts, something that Jon and his pals find disconcerting to say the least.
Well, since so much of Jon’s life revolves around porn (and Barbara simply doesn’t get his need for it), this becomes something of a stumbling block to their relationship. Adding to all of this, while Jon totally loves Barbars the way she is (or the way he perceives her to be), Barbara immediately sets her sights on “bettering” Jon (convincing him to go back to school — where, coincidently he meets Esther an “older” woman who, while good looking is, well, older, and not so easily swayed by his good looks and (totally unlike Barbara), encourages him to think for himself.
We also meet Jon’s hilariously Italian family Mom (Larson) who totally wants grandchildren, dad (Danza), and sis Angela (Glenne Headly) who, although appearing throughout the film has a mere two lines on which the whole plot turns. Yeah, this is a very poignant film that holds more truths than in all of the chick flicks that Hollywood had produced this century. Go, take your best girl and be prepared to have to explain it all to her afterwards (she won’t get it, and you’ll totally have to go with her to a couple of three RomComs as payback, but it will totally be worth it.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.