Welcome to A-Z Movie Reviews. Every Sunday, for the next several months, I will be posting a review of a film in my home movie collection. How it works is, I will be reviewing movies in alphabetical order until I get to the letter Z (Yes, I do have a film that ends in Z). Now I realize there are many ways to alphabetize a film collection, but this is mine so don’t judge me. This is simply for fun.
I’ve always had a thing for Joseph Gordon-Levitt. There’s just something about him that I can’t explain but it started when I first saw him in 10 Things I Hate About You. He was this cute, shy, nerdy guy that I just thought was so adorable. I’ve enjoyed all of his work, so it was a no-brainer for me to check him out in Don Jon.
What it’s about:
A New Jersey guy dedicated to his family, friends, and church, develops unrealistic expectations from watching porn and works to find happiness and intimacy with his potential true love.
It’s been awhile since I watched this film and this time around, I found myself thinking pretty hard about it. Let’s discuss.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt Is A Really Talented Guy
Not only does Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in this movie, he also wrote the script and directed it. This is one of our favorite films of his and that’s probably weird to say considering what it deals with but it’s true. Joseph is a talented guy and he transformed so much for this role, not just physically but he nailed his accent and that cocky demeanor so well that all we saw was Jon. We really enjoyed watching his character development throughout the film as well.
Guys Will Find Porn Everywhere
Okay, so we know some guys will be like “guys find porn everywhere, what?” but don’t kill the messenger. The opening of Don Jon literally starts by showing tons and tons of women in various ways. From Beauty pageants to food commercials, we’re given visuals of women’s body parts and to us, this sends the message that guys will find sex in all forms of entertainment.
Watching Porn is A Process
We are not here to pass judgment on anyone. We know people watch porn but it was interesting to listen to Jon break down his entire process when he watches it. He goes into detail about starting with photos, to slowly working his way up to the perfect video to satisfy his urges. He also goes into the ups and downs of watching it as well. One of his biggest issues is that the girls in real life that he hooks up with, don’t do any of the things in the videos. In his mind, what the women do in porn is how they’re supposed to be in real life, and he doesn’t understand why they aren’t.
Girls Have Unrealistic Expectations Too
Yes, we said we have unrealistic expectations too. Just like guys have unrealistic expectations about women because of porn, we have unrealistic ones because of the movies we watch. Jon’s girlfriend Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), is obsessed with romance films and while they are not in the same vein as porn, watching them has made her place high expectations on the men she dates. She tries to change Jon in various ways and make him be something he isn’t. She “encourages” him to go back to school, which is great but, she dictates what he should be going to school for.
Guys Cleaning Is Sexy
Jon’s girlfriend is irritating, and she really pissed me off when they went shopping together. Jon loves keeping his apartment neat and tidy and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. While he and Barbara are shopping, he says he needs to pick up some more Swiffer pads for his mop to clean his floor. She tells him that he shouldn’t be cleaning his own place and that it’s embarrassing. I’m sorry, but a grown ass man keeping his place clean and tidy is sexy as hell. Most women would love to date a guy who takes pride in cleaning up after himself.
Esther (Julianne Moore) is one of Jon’s classmates. She befriends him after catching him watching porn in class. I’m not really sure why she was so drawn to him but, I think it could because in a lot of ways she saw that the two of them were lacking something similar. She’s grieving the loss of her husband and son who died in a car accident, so she misses the intimacy she once had. Jon isn’t grieving the loss of anyone but, he does lack intimacy. Though he was dating Barbara, even when they finally slept together, he was completely detached. He doesn’t know how to really be intimate with a woman.
When Esther asks him what he likes about porn, he tells her he enjoys it because he can lose himself in a way that he doesn’t when he has real sex. Esther tells him that what he is doing is completely one-sided and that is the problem. Because he has spent so much time watching porn, he does not know what it’s like to really lose yourself with another person. She goes on to tell him that to lose himself, the woman he’s with has to lose herself in him.
Jon thinks over what Esther told him and he starts making changes in his life. He avoids watching porn and he starts getting closer to her. They eventually end up sleeping together and it opens his eyes in ways he did not expect. Esther gives him the intimacy he’s been lacking, and he finally understands what losing himself actually feels like.
Silent But Always Listening
One of the most interesting characters in this film other than Jon and Esther, was Jon’s sister Monica (Brie Larson). She spends the whole movie looking at her phone and never says anything. I remember the first time we watched this movie we thought, “Why doesn’t she ever say anything? Does she hate her family or something?” then when she finally speaks after Jon and Barbara have broken up, even though it’s not that many words, it means something.
As we were watching the movie this time around, we paying attention to every move she made. Even though she never spoke, from all of her mannerisms it was obvious she was always paying attention especially when it came to Jon and Barbara’s relationship.
While we really like this movie, our issue was the lack of Jon’s backstory. We wanted to know more of why he got addicted to porn. We know he grew up in a household where his dad Jon Sr. (Tony Danza) was clearly a super macho guy but, it doesn’t tell me much. Jon briefly mentions to Esther that he started watching porn when he was younger but there is nothing else said other than that. Maybe that’s all there is to it but, we felt like there was something deeper.
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt looks hot as Jon. Sorry, not sorry.
- The scenes in the confessional when Jon goes to church are so interesting because I found myself wondering what the Father had to be thinking hearing all of his wild confessions every Sunday.
- Loved the cameos from Channing Tatum, Anne Hathaway, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Meagan Goode as different actors in their cheesy rom coms.
- Watching porn in class, really Jon? if you do that, you can’t get mad that someone saw you and asked you about it.
- If Jon wants to buy Swiffer pads, let him buy Swiffer pads Barbara!
- We love the way sound played a roll in this film. Jon drives to church every Sunday in silence but after he and Esther sleep together it’s like something wakes up inside him and he has this happy feeling he didn’t before so he’s blasting the radio and singing. Another instance with sound playing a role was at Jon’s parents’ house. They always had the TV on with sports so there was nothing but yelling from his dad. When Monica finally speaks, Jon’s mom turns the TV off so she can hear. More importantly, it’s so the audience can hear because Monica is finally about to speak, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt wanted to make sure we heard her and really understood that moment.