Don Jon

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Italian American Jon Martello is a modern day Don Juan, with a short list of things he cares about: “my body, my pad, my ride, my family, my church, my boys, my girls, my porn”. He has an active sex life, but is more satisfied by pornography.

On a night out with his two best friends, Jon sees Barbara Sugarman (Johansson), and although she finds him interesting he fails to pick her up for a one-night stand. He finds her on Facebook, and asks her to lunch. The attraction is mutual, but Barbara insists on a traditional long-term courtship, which proceeds for over a month without sex. She encourages him to take night classes to get an office job outside the service industry, and Jon indulges her love for romance movies, which he usually dismisses as unrealistic fantasy. They meet each other’s families and Jon’s parents immediately love her.

Finally, the two have sex, but Jon is still dissatisfied. He admits the sex was decent and her body was perfect, but still felt something was missing. He gets up, while Barbara sleeps, to watch pornography. Barbara catches him and is shocked that he would do such a thing. Jon denies that he watches pornography and claims it was a sick joke emailed to him by a friend.

Their relationship resumes, with Jon continuing to watch pornography, but doing so primarily outside his apartment, where Barbara is often around. He is caught watching a video on his cell phone before a class by Esther (Moore), a middle-aged woman who attempts to apologize for an earlier awkward incident in which Jon encountered her weeping by herself at the college. Jon politely brushes her off. Barbara continues to assert control over him, insisting that cleaning his own apartment—a task Jon finds personally satisfying—is not manly. One night she looks at the browser history on his computer, confronts him with proof that he has been continuing to compulsively watch pornography, and ends their relationship.

Jon tries to return to his old lifestyle, but it’s not the same. Esther continues to reach out to Jon, trying to offer him the benefit of her experience. She reveals to Jon that the reason why he doesn’t seem to have the same fun he has watching pornography while having sex, is because pornography is a one-sided affair, and if he wants to have sex that’s better than pornography, he has to be willing to lose himself to another person, and she has to be willing to lose herself to him, calling it “a two-way street.” She lends him an erotic video that she believes has a more realistic depiction of sexual relations. He responds by initiating a sexual encounter in her parked car. She persuades him to try masturbating without pornography, but he is unable to. She invites him to her home, where she reveals that her husband and son had died in a car crash 14 months before. She counsels him further about the need for sex to be a mutual experience, and with her, Jon finally has an emotional connection sex that doesn’t leave him restless to watch pornography.

Jon’s weekly confessional tallying his one-night stands and pornography sessions is replaced by one in which he proudly reports abstinence from pornography and just the one instance of fornication, which he describes as being more like making love. He tells his parents about the break-up with Barbara, and they are devastated. His sister breaks her silence, saying that Barbara never cared about Jon, and was using him to live out her romance movie fantasy.

Jon asks to meet with Barbara and apologizes for lying to her about the pornography. Barbara says she asked one thing of him, and he failed. Jon replies she asked many things of him, and just couldn’t keep up with her expectations. She says goodbye, and tells him to never contact her again.

Jon takes Esther as his girlfriend, and even though neither has any interest in getting married anytime soon, and denies he is love, but believes he really understands her and they can get emotionally lost in each other.


Well, it would seem that this weekend is dedicated to first time directors. Earlier this week, I watched Sidney Poitier’s directorial debut, Buck and the Preacher and tonight I have the chance to watch Lake Bell’s debut with In a World… Now, it is time for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s debut, Don Jon. I really have some high hopes for this film, but I am also a bit reticent because I honestly don’t remember anyone showering this with praise and accolades.

What is this about?

Jon Martello’s romantic exploits are legendary among his friends, but his obsession with online porn saps his enthusiasm for real sex. As he searches for intimacy — or avoids it — Jon meets two women with vital lessons to teach him.

What did I like?

Scarlett. Guys, as hot as well think and know Scarlett Johansson is, that is nothing compared to the level she achieves in this picture. Her hotness level is ratcheted up x10! There is a scene with her and Gordon-Levitt grinding against a door that is sure to have you squirming in your seat or running to take a cold shower. On top of that, she gives a pretty decent performance as a Jersey girl type.

Movies. Johansson’s character has a thing for romantic comedies, while Levitt is all about the porn. Seems like they would be the worst couple possible, right? I won’t spoil that, but there is a scene when they have a fight and it is brought up how romantic comedies are more or less porn for women. If you really think about it, that’s true. I know very few members of the female species who don’t go gaga for those films. Here’s the kicker, though. She jumped all over his case for watching porn, yet when it came to her romantic comedies, nothing was said. Can we say double standard? Perhaps, and I’m glad that the film said what we’ve all been scared to say.

Silent Monica. Remember in Kevin Smith, as Silent Bob, wouldn’t talk for the entire film? Then, out of nowhere, somewhere near the film’s end, he would spout off some words of wisdom that help the lead character. Clerks is perhaps the best example of this, but pretty much any of the Viewaskew films will work. Keeping that train of though, Brie Larson’s character does nothing throughout the whole film but text (much like every other teenager in the world). She’s attached to the phone at the dinner table and in church, but the last time we see her, the phone is mysteriously missing. I guess without it, she felt she needed to say something, and offered Levitt’s character some advice and insight.

What didn’t I like?

Looks aren’t everything. Scarlett Johansson may be super hot, but her attitude in this film pretty much nullifies that. Well, I shouldn’t say attitude, but rather her views. I’ve already mentioned the porn stuff, but for some reason, she has a hang-up with a guy cleaning his own place. I really don’t see what the big deal with that is, and think there is something in her past that wasn’t explained. Don’t even get me started on her snooping in his computer. What was she hoping to find by looking in his history? What happened to trust?

Stereotype. To an extent, I was loving the stereotypical Italian family that Levitt chose to give his character, but as the gag went on and on and on, it wore thinner and thinner. Do all Italian families eat pasta, specifically spaghetti, every night? Why do they not wear shirts at the table? Are wife beater t-shirts mandatory? I half expected to find out that they were part of the mob as some subplot. Again, the gag isn’t bad, it just wore thin because of how much they kept coming back to it.

Growth. At the beginning of the film, Levitt’s character is obsessed with porn, saying that it is better than the “real thing”. By film’s end, he doesn’t really change his tune, even he has found a kindred spirit (though they aren’t “together”). It seems to me that there should have been some kind of character growth, but maybe that would be too ironically romantic comedy. Personally, I’m ok with him not growing. Some people are just set in their ways, but it would have been nice if he would have acknowledged his attempt to change, and why he tried, as well as why it didn’t work.

On the surface, Don Jon appears to be a film that is sure to offend those with delicate sensibilities who can’t take a joke. Truth is, though, this is a well thought out, funny comedy. Someone said it was a more entertaining version of Shame, but I would go one further and say it is like a mixture of that and (500) Days of Summer (which also starred Levitt). Obviously, this is not a film you can show your whole family. The scenes and themes are just not for everyone. It is more of a date flick, I suppose. Do I recommend it? Yes, very much so! I’ enjoyed this little film more than I expected to. If Levitt can continue to churn out enjoyable flicks like this, then he is on the fast track to becoming my new favorite director. Give this one a shot, sometime!

4 out of 5 stars


3 Responses to “Don Jon”

  1. Mystery Man Says:

    Reblogged this on Mr Movie Fiend's Movie Blog.

  2. […] Johansson is one of the most desirable women in Hollywood, of that there is no doubt. As we saw in Don Jon, she knows she’s sexy and can play it up to an extreme level if necessary. With the character […]

  3. […] hostesses in restaurants that put glamour models to shame! Maybe if Scarlett used her look from Don Jon it would have been better? […]

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