Don Jon is an oddly sensitive film that ultimately has a good message. The message, however, is delivered in a complete man ‘splaining way. This makes it a man’s film much more than a woman’s film. We go through a lot with Jon, the don of sex, for him to learn something that women already know.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Jon. He is super buff, a man’s man. He takes home a different girl every night after rating the women in the bars on a scale of 1–10 with his buddies. He always gets the girl with the highest score. After a quick bang with the girl-of-the-day, Jon sneaks off to watch pr0n. (Sorry for the misspelling. Trying to keep the icky people away.) Pr0n is perfect. Big tits, big asses, both in your face 100% of the time. Nothing like real sex.
This Jersey boy (the Jersey accents in the film are dead on) goes home to dinner with the folks once a week. His dad is played by Tony Danza who is simply fabulous in this part. Jon goes to mass on Sunday with the family and confesses each week to the number of times he had intercourse outside of marriage and the number of times he jerked off while watching videos.
One night in the bar, the boys spot Barbara (Scarlett Johansson). The ass, the boobs, the lips, the hair: she’s perfect. Jon has to have her.
Surprise, she’s not easy. He has to work for it. When he finally gets it, he’s sure he’s in love. He’s so sure he’s in love, he overlooks her little flaws – like she completely takes control of his life. Like she has sex just like everyone else he’s ever met and that great body of hers is never in his face the way it is in his fantasy world.
She makes him promise to stop watching the pr0n0. When he cannot, she dumps him.
Meanwhile Jon meets Esther (Julianne Moore) in night school. In a movie full of cardboard cutouts of characters, she is the most undeveloped of all. We know she bursts into tears at inappropriate times, smokes a lot of pot, and is willing to have sex with Jon. That’s it.
Later, when we get to the brief sensitive part of the story, we learn that Esther recently lost both her husband and her son. She is the woman who finally teaches Jon how to connect with a woman and actually make love as opposed to have sex.
Thanks to Esther’s wise teachings, Jon stops being an ass and becomes a nice guy. That’s the good message I mentioned. Getting Jon to that point is a very masculine undertaking. Not surprising since the film was written and directed by the star Joseph Gordon-Levitt and is about a hyper masculine guy.
If you want to take this trip from a male point of view, this film will rate very high with you. Within those parameters, it’s an excellent film.
A Comment from Twitter
When I tweeted a link to this article, I was reminded of something important about this film in a return tweet. I noticed while I was watching the film how Barbara with her romantic movies was just like Jon with his videos, but then I forgot to mention it in the review. Thanks to @damnthemusicman for reminding me of this important plot point.
@OldAintDead Thought it was interesting that Barbara had her own version of Pr0n in rom-coms. Unrealistic expectations all around.
— Nicole Van Andel (@damnthemusicman) July 8, 2014
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