Title: Don Jon
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Writer: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Music: Nathan Johnson
Cinematography: Thomas Kloss
JGL’s director debut (also the writer and leading actor, a triple threat indeed in this case), DON JON, like (500) DAYS OF SUMMER (2009), they are not your average rom-com and they are much better since they underpin certain realistic meanings. For DON JON, it is an anti-objectification to what Hollywood chronically implants into our generations’ minds about the veneer of romantic relationship. That is, man is looking for the perfect sex target to fulfill all his fantasies and woman is looking for a Mr. Perfect who is totally under her control. Both reek one-sided selfishness.
Thanks to the invention of internet pornography and the discrepancy between man and woman on playing with oneself, for man, the more graphically related sexual demand can be easily actualized, so our protagonist Jon (Gordon-Levitt) is a porno-addicted gym jock, who has no difficulty hooking up the hottest girl in the nightclub, but when the eventual boy-meet-girl scenario happens, a smoking hot Barbara (Johansson) yet cannot drag him out to the cold turkey period, meanwhile, Barbara is far from picture-perfect and clearly has her own agenda of what kind of man she is seeking for, an inexorable clash sets them apart (although the history in the browser is a shoddy device). Later on, Jon starts to date an elder woman Esther (Moore) from the night school, who has just gone through a tragic accident in her life, nurtured by Esther’s sensible edification, Jon becomes clarified about what love is and accomplishes his rite of passage.
DON JON is a genre-blender with indie comedy, romp romance and lighthearted drama, adorned by formulaic default of male chauvinism, female sexualization, boisterous Anglo-Italian family (Tony Danza is an embarrassing joke though), paint-by-number religious service and confession, while swarmed with repetition shots of making beds, gym, church, night school, sex-hunt in the club, and of course, porn stuff. Nevertheless as a novice in the director’s chair, JGL shows qualified competence in executing the story with slick pace and earnest passion, and as an actor, he is definitely a leading man material among his peers. Johansson and Moore are pitch-perfect in two different types of women who turn a boy into a man. Johansson amplifies her self-mocking fatuousness and control freaky possessiveness, injects immense credibility in a derogative character; Moore, is an on-screen goddess of mettle, shatters the twenty-years age difference, generates some wholesome chemistry with JGL despite it is not a challenging role for her at all.
I give DON JON an reassuring 7.7/10, it is more than a cute feel-good flick to watch with your significant other, underneath its less-than-impressive script, the connotation it evokes is worth more wider reverberations other than an immediate suggestion “why not Jon just date a porn star if he is really into that?”. For me, it is a guilty pleasure not the least because Moore is in it.