“Don Jon” Review

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Photo courtesy of Relativity Media

Photo courtesy of Relativity Media

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Mike has a degree in Film from The University of Texas at Austin. He...
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Mike Mike has a degree in Film from The University of Texas at Austin. He has worked in the entertainment industry for the past 25 years and sees two to four new movies in the theatre a week. Mike has a weekly movie blog where he reviews films both present and past at:

lastonetoleavethetheatre.blogspot.com

He can be followed on Twitter @lastonetoleave

“Don Jon”  (2013)

Photo courtesy of Relativity Media

Photo courtesy of Relativity Media

Don (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), called “Don Jon” because of his ability to sleep with the best looking woman in the club every night, is devoted to his family, his friends and his church.  He is also devoted to porn.  His world gets turned upside down when he starts dating Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson), who has big plans for Don.

A word of warning when you go see this film (and some of you may not after you hear this), there is quite a bit of small scenes of pornography in this R rated film. Don is addicted to on-line porn, and we see what he is watching.  None of the porn scenes are too graphic, but there are quite a few scenes of topless women gyrating on the screen. If you can get through the first fifteen minutes of the film, the scenes become less and less, but there is quite a bit in the early parts of this film.

Don, while quite the ladies’ man, would rather spend time watching the fantasy women in porn than spend time getting to know someone in the real world. This all changes when he meets Barbara, a woman who doesn’t fall for his moves or his lines.  Johansson is perfect in the role of Barbara, a woman that is so beautiful that a Lothario like Don is willing to change his ways and become a one-woman-man. Barbara  knows how to manipulate a guy into doing things he would not ordinarily do, like go to night school or give up the porn that he seems to love more than anything in the world. She does a marvelous job as a living, breathing “Jersey Girl,” bringing a stereotypical character to life, making  a character that is strait from the reality shows more real than anyone on “The Jersey Shore.”

Photo courtesy of Relativity Media

Photo courtesy of Relativity Media

Gordon-Levitt has the right stuff as an actor to pull off such a difficult role. Don is a guy that while a playboy, puts his family and friends first, so that while you might not like some of his lifestyle choices, you still root for the guy and Gordon-Levitt brings those qualities to the screen.  Gordon-Levitt is not only the star of the film, he also wrote and directed it. JGL shows a nice comedic touch to a film that could have easily been either heavy handed or could have gone way over the top with the stereotypical characters. Gordon-Levitt gives us characters that have depth and with Don, real growth.

Photo courtesy of Relativity Media

Photo courtesy of Relativity Media

The supporting cast in this film is good, with Tony Danza as Don’s father, Julianne Moore as Esther, a classmate in night school with Don, and the versatile Brie Larson, who plays Don’s sister. Danza is especially good in his role as the man that Don will turn into if he keeps going down the road he is on. Danza’s performance never feels forced and is so much fun to watch.  Moore gives us, a reality check character, someone who doesn’t belong in Don’s world but is the perfect person to help him see what is important in life. As with just about any character Moore plays on screen, there is such an easy quality about her that instantly makes us want to like and trust her character. Larson, whose character for most of the film, is a “fly on the wall” sitting at the dinner table texting away on her phone with an attitude that shows that she has seen this all before. Larson comes through in her performance, when her character is asked to make a life changing statement to Don, delivering her lines with the force necessary for it to sink in.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has given us a film that is funny and at times moving, about people whose priorities need to change in order for them to be happy and self-fulfilled. It’s a well done film that if you can get past the first fifteen minutes, you will thoroughly enjoy.

My Rating:  Bargain Matinee

Don Jon opens today at Atlanta area theatres.


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