Odds are that starting up your MacBook Pro will never sound the same again…ever. Joseph Gordon-Levitt wrote, directed, and starred in Don Jon – the tale of Jon, the “Don” of his crew and a lovable Italian Catholic douchebag from Jersey. He’s keen on working out, cleaning his pad, going to church, nailing broads from the club, and pounding off to explicit content on the information superhighway. Is it the funniest movie you’ll see this year? Probably not, but it’s got plenty of hearty laughs. Raunchiest? Potentially. That depends on your personal threshold for tits, ass, masturbation references, and the Danza Slap – just kidding, “The Boss” left his faux porn days behind him for this one, but appears to have taken up P90X – dude is ripped. But I digest…
The story of Don Jon is one of transformation – the classic scenario of someone trying to be something they’re not to please someone else, but with a Jersey Shore type flair. Jon’s life is something you might expect given his age (late 20’s), heritage (Italian), profession (bartender), and charming good looks. He’s content with his rituals: daily weight-lifting, chronic masturbation (the guy is a masturbatory entrepreneur), fighting the weekend war, and making it all better with church and family dinner on Sundays. All until he meets Barbara, played by Scarlett Johansson, who throws a wrench in the whole operation. His womanizing streak is put on hold in an attempt to conquer the chastity belt skillfully hidden in her skin-tight wardrobe.
Jon soon finds himself in a bit of a predicament when Barbara catches him in one of his “me time” sessions and expresses her extreme displeasure with the adult arts. So here’s the “Don,” going from one extreme of the douche spectrum to the other, a love-sick puppy-dog-eyed shell of his former self, with his boys, played by Rob Brown and Jeremy Luke, there to witness the whole thing. Is Barbara the one? Will a rookie mistake sabotage his relationship? Seriously, even Derek Zoolander (“The files are inside the computer???) knows to clear his browser history. Or will it take the perspective of a non-traditional classmate, Julianne Moore, to get Jon to realize what’s really important?
The bottom line is that Don Jon is an extremely amusing film which takes a taboo subject matter, throws it in your face, and doesn’t bother to give you a warm rag to clean up with. It works because the characters drive the story, and Jon’s metamorphosis throughout is based on a set of completely relevant problems: the danger of letting anything on-screen influence your expectations of a relationship, how to deal with grandkid-crazy parents, and letting someone else in while maintaining an identity of self.
Chalk one up in the win column for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s writing and directing debut. He proves that he’s got the potential for amazing things to come, and Don Jon may just be the tip of the iceberg. The style of photography and repetition of scene enhanced the development of Jon’s character, who is a creature of habit and ritual himself. This kind of attention to subtleties is what sets the greats apart from everybody else.
Guys and girls alike should find Don Jon entertaining at the least – with dirty humor and a shirtless Joseph Gordon-Levitt, everybody wins.