Mini-Review: Don Jon (2013) Tries to Subvert Romantic Comedy Clichés, While Also Speaking Up Against Pornography

Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a young Italian American who seems like he just stepped out of the Jersey Shore. There’s few things he cares about in life. In his own words: “My body, my pad, my ride, my family, my church, my boys, my girls, my porn”. Now, while most people might be shocked about the church part (how many people do you know who still go to church?), Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), the sexy blonde he picks up at the club and falls in love with, is disgusted by his obsession with internet pornography. If he wants to keep the girl, he has to give up the porn, but can he do that? Does he even want to do that? Well, it shouldn’t be that hard, right? Right?!

Don Jon is Joseph Gordon Levitt’s directorial debut. It’s not bad by any stretch, but it’s not exactly good either. The script is a bit messy to say the least, but there were a couple of things about the film I appreciated too. I liked that he tried to subvert genre expectations and that he’s commenting on how both movies and porn can lead to unrealistic expectations of love and sex, respectively. I like that he brought up an issue not many people are willing to talk about: Pornography. With the advent of the internet, porn has become readily available for anyone anywhere. Beyond that, the objectification of both men and women in the media is unprecedented in history, like the film shows in its opening montage. Pornography is indeed a bad thing and not many people are willing to admit it, but it is.

Don Jon should have been a romantic comedy, but I didn’t find anything particularly romantic or funny about it. Yes, it’s also trying to make a point and it has an important message like I said, but as a movie it doesn’t work that well and is ultimately unsatisfying. I like that they called out the hypocrisy of the Catholic confessional, while also using it as a storytelling device. However it feels like something’s missing from this film. Can’t put my finger on exactly what it is. The aside from the main characters, every other character is a movie cliché. Even if the film tries to be different from other “similar” genre entries I’m not entirely sure it succeeds. For the most part it’s just forgettable. I liked JGL’s acting though, he gives a solid performance and so do Scarlett Johansson (love the sexy accent), Julianne Moore, Tony Danza and Brie Larson.

Rating on First Viewing: 5 out of 10


  1. The Thorn

    I got the same impression, that it was merely okay. Hence why, even though the subject is interesting, topical, even, I just couldn’t be bothered. That’s too bad.

  2. CMrok93

    It wasn’t a great movie, but considering that it’s JGL’s directorial debut, I have to give the guy the benefit of the doubt because he chose to do something interesting. Hopefully that continues on with the rest of his efforts as writer and director, as well as actor. Good review.

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