With its half-naked women, excessive use of slow motion, weak performances and vibrant colors, it only takes a set of eyes to see that a Michael Bay film resembles watching a two-plus hour-long music video. Sadly and surprisingly, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut contains only slightly more substance than the former. Not so much a music video, Don Jon is rather the ninety-minute, spread-too-thin version of a funny YouTube video.
Jon (Gordon-Levitt), called the Don amongst his friends (all two of them) because of how smooth he is with the ladies, only cares about few things in life: His body, his pad, his ride, his women/sex, his family, and his porn. We’re not quite sure in what order these necessarily rank, except for porn, which clearly takes the number one spot after about thirty seconds in. To Jon, sex with a person is great and all, truly awesome, but porn really gets him going; it’s the one time he can truly feel lost in himself. Inspiring, I know.
Managing to close his laptop long enough to go with his boys to the club, Jon spots a dime (a game every man constantly plays where we rate all woman we happen to come across, and many we don’t, on a scale of 0-10, 10 being the absolute hottest babe on Earth. And the higher the points one “scores”, the sweeter the victory. Also, a dime is equal to 10 cents) across the bar in the form of Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson). This could be the girl, the one that finally makes Jon settle down and devote his time and energy to someone. Thing is, she’s not the biggest fan of guys who watch porn.
The rest of the film is Jon dealing with his addiction and how it relates to his happiness and to that of the women in his life. The previews are indeed accurate in putting on display the generic guy. Not the one the breaks your heart by cheating on the girl so she can go meet her dream guy, but rather the guy who says all the right things the girl wants him to, and to his friends, all the things she doesn’t (stereotypical guy-talk). He’s a charming Jersey Shore contestant if there ever was one.
So, the story is simple. The element that certainly separates this film from others like it is how it’s told. Director Gordon-Levitt utilizes repetition throughout the film. He uses voiceover and montages to great effect, often showing pornographic images or scenes from his sex-life, seemingly always for comedic effect. But the repetition in editing soon becomes tiring. I want to believe it’s fresh, and I definitely haven’t seen anything like it before (well, away from the internet anyway), but in the end it really is just a gimmicky polish on a sub-standard film.
But hey, there are some laugh out loud points, and any scene with Tony Danza, who plays Jon’s father, is highly entertaining. But I expect more from one of this generation’s most talented actors, and one that has worked with some of the best directors. Perhaps it was too soon for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut, but I won’t rule out any future endeavors. [C]
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