Don Jon (2013)

Don Jon (2013)
  • Time: 90 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama | Romance
  • Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
  • Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore


Jon Martello objectifies everything in his life: his apartment, his car, his family, his church, and, of course, women. His buddies even call him Don Jon because of his ability to pull “10s” every weekend without fail. Yet even the finest flings don’t compare to the transcendent bliss he achieves alone in front of the computer watching pornography. Dissatisfied, he embarks on a journey to find a more gratifying sex life, but ends up learning larger lessons of life and love through relationships with two very different women.


  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt has turned into one of the best and most interesting of Hollywood’s young talents. He has a knack for picking good projects, and consistently takes on interesting roles, not content to glide by on his looks and charm like so many pretty boy actors.

    So it did not surprise me that “Don Jon,” his debut as director (he also wrote and stars), is not a typical romantic comedy. Though billed as a movie about a sex addict, the film isn’t about addiction so much as it’s about the inability of people to form meaningful relationships with others because of preconceived notions (most of them completely unrealistic) about what those relationships should be. One would think based on previews that Gordon-Levitt’s character, a guido with slicked back hair and an Internet porn obsession, meets his match when he falls for a hot dame (played by Scarlett Johansson) and must become a better man in order to earn the right to be loved by her. But that’s not what happens, and one of the things I liked best about the movie is that Johansson proves to be the film’s villain (as much as a movie like this has a villain), and that her expectations about relationships are just as distorted as his, just in different ways.

    “Don Jon” isn’t a terrific movie. It feels more like an early draft than a fully fleshed out final product, with conflicts being resolved too quickly and patly, characters coming to realizations too easily. It was too hard for me to lose myself in the movie and forget that I was watching actors play parts, a sure sign for me that something about the film I’m watching isn’t totally working. I felt this the most when watching the scenes between Gordon-Levitt and Julianne Moore, who plays an older and wiser woman who becomes Don’s mentor in sex and love. Moore is a lovely actress and I always want to like her, but something about her character in this just didn’t ring true for me, though a revelation about her character late in the movie gives it one of its nicest and most touching moments.

    So not a great film, but certainly one worth checking out as a rental, and good enough to make me look forward to what Joseph Gordon-Levitt the filmmaker is going to do next.

    The film also stars Tony Danza as Don’s foul-mouthed father, and Alison Brie as his sister, who has exactly one line of dialogue but somehow manages to be one of the most memorable things about the movie.

  • First of all, I don’t know how this movie got so much good reviews. The movie was about the guy’s porn addiction, but how the story unfolded showed there was like minimal plot planning. There wasn’t much of a story to be honest. Also the characters are extremely shallow and stupid. Including the family of the main actor in the movie. The only character that shows some kind of a more in-depth is the one of Julianne Moore. On directing and camera I have absolutely no remarks, Joseph Gordon-Levitt obviously learned a lot from directors of movies and series he was in before. But script and profiling of characters, total fail. I would not recommend watching this movie at all…

  • Don Jon is young actor’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s feature debut as a director and a writer. I always admired Gordon-Levitt as an actor (in addition to writing and directing Don Jon, he also plays the title role) and I was eager to see how he would handle the director’s/writer’s chair. And I must say, Gordon-Levitt didn’t disappoint: Don Jon is a rather sweet and entertaining movie that deals with the sensitive subject of pornography – a subject you’ll won’t see frequently tackled in mainstream movies. I wouldn’t go as far as to call Don Jon a revolutionary movie, but it definitely is a fresh movie that deserves to be watched.

    The movie is about Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), called The Don because of his success with the ladies, who enjoys several things in his life – his friends, his family, training in the gym, going to church and, of course, the ladies. Bust most of all, Jon likes pornography, he even explains how he prefers porn to real sex; he watches it daily and is, what you might call, a porn addict. One night, at a club, he meets the beautiful Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), whom he describes as a ‘dime’, and soon starts a relationship with. The problem with Barbara is that she dislikes men who watch porn. Jon has no choice but to simultaneously maintain his relationship and his porn watching habits, because he doesn’t want to give up either.

    The thing I like the most about Don Jon is how it deals with “taboos” in a genuine, intelligent way – and because of that it somewhat reminds me of Kevin Smith’s 1997 classic Chasing Amy. Like it or not, porn plays a role in almost every man’s life and will – sooner or later – be the topic of a discussion in a relationship. Don Jon deals with this topic in a very mature way. It shows that too much porn can cause the developing of unrealistic expectations in a young man, as well as other things (like romantic movies) which, if consumed in excessive amounts, can lead to unrealistic expectations. The movie deals with this topic in a very subtle and appealing way, and it may be considered a relationship study. However, due to the nature of its topic, the movie is written exclusively from a man’s perspective, and it might not be as entertaining for the female audience as it is for the male audience.

    Overall, it seems to me that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was able to achieve the hat-trick of movie making with Don Jon. His screenplay is fresh and intriguing, his acting is top-notch and even his directing style is interesting and captivating. The rest of the cast – especially the female leads Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore – are charming as ever, and Tony Danza is great as the, arguably, funniest character in the movie – Jon’s dad, also called Jon. In spite of not being a full blown comedy, Don Jon is a movie that will definitely put a smile on your face. With directing and writing Don Jon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt showed he is not just a talented actor, and I can’t wait for him to direct more movies.

    Rating: 8/10 Read more reviews at

  • As I recall, the last Joseph Gordon-Hewitt movie I saw was Looper. With a little prosthetic make up and a slight voice alteration, he willfully imitates Bruce Willis. Now, in his directorial debut (not the first film he’s directed but this is the first that’s not a short), he looks and acts slightly more like a young Robert De Niro (sans make up, its gotta be the smirk and the mannerisms I’m thinking). Don Jon (the flick I’m reviewing) is a quirky little movie that is interesting and amusing (not to mention foul-mouthed, crass, and overly sexual). To Gordon-Hewitt’s credit, it works because of him. His direction is swift, sassy, and for the first half, unique in the way it dictates the rhythms of the actors/cuts through music and narration. Along with the solid directorial effort he shows here, he’s also become a fully accomplished actor that specializes in creating different and interesting (multilayered) characters.

    Muscle-chested, full of road rage tendencies and a cleanliness freak, his Jon Martello, Jr. is a study of one man’s inability to formulate a relationship (with a woman) because he would rather watch pornographic material on the Internet. He’s an unwealthy playboy (that’s why his two best friends call him quote unquote, “Don Jon”), a ladies man, and a churchgoing type all rolled up into one. He’s proud of his clean apartment and I guess, doesn’t cook (that explains why he mostly eats at his parent’s house). As I said earlier, Martello, Jr. has a bit of a temper from time to time and probably gets it from his dad (Jon Sr. played by Tony Danza who sheds his Who’s The Boss character’s image by spewing a ton of profanity). His sister doesn’t talk and basically is on her phone all the time. Then there’s Jon Jr.’s mother who wants so bad for him to be in a relationship, get married, and have kids. Basically for most of the proceedings, Don Jon details three things: Gordon- Levitt’s (Martello, Jr.) unusual relationship with his family (he and his dad love to rock the wife beaters at the dinner table), his obsession with watching pornographic movies, and his pursuit of a “dime” of a girl that he meets at a dance club (Scarlett Johansson giving a solid performance as Barbara Sugarman (she gets the Jersey accent down pat)). And if you’ve only seen the trailer, this movie as a whole can be a little misleading as it gets closer to its conclusion. Don Jon ventured down a different path than I initially thought it would. The reason: a supporting role played by Julianne Moore (Esther) kinda changes things up a bit. She plays a sulking widow who befriends Gordon- Levitt’s character giving him insight into his admitted condition.

    All and all, Don Jon is fun for most of the way. It is the type of film that will cause you to laugh nervously because you feel guilty for enjoying it. Its only fault may be the way it ends things so abruptly and without enough of a satisfying conclusion (the flick went from music video mayhem to a rom com indie look). I will recommend it though for Joseph Gordon-Levitt alone. He is able to nail down any character he plays and with a slight nudge from outside forces (any male cast member from Jersey Shore comes to mind), he creates Martello, Jr. completely out of thin air. He’s a darn good actor and his future A-list status is fully assured. As for Don Jon the vehicle, it may turn off certain types of moviegoers. If you are one of the easily offended, I would advise against seeing it (the innuendo is off the charts). If you don’t mind your jaw dropping from time to time with the occasional guilty chuckle or snort, Don Jon might just be the “Don” Perignon of sex comedies.

    Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

    Check out other reviews on my blog:

  • In the same month (September 2013), American movie fans may have noticed the release of two movies about sex addiction. Although it’s good to call attention to this very real problem, one of those two movies did it much better than the other. “Thanks for Sharing” takes the subject seriously and has a good story with appealing characters. And then there’s “Don Jon” (R, 1:30).

    This film is written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who also stars. Jon is a man who cannot get enough sex. He has issues and, as the kids say, he needs tissues for his issues (literally). He brings to bed an endless parade of beautiful women, but still looks at pornography – constantly – even when his latest conquest is sleeping in his bed. He doesn’t see a problem with this. He further shows his character’s contradictions both as he swears at other drivers while he’s rushing to church and as he makes completely insincere confessions in said building.

    Jon continues unapologetically on this path until he meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), who he’s convinced is a “10”, but who refuses to be his latest one night stand. Jon and Barbara are adorable together, but their constant sexual play and public displays of affection eventually make us feel like voyeurs and border on the disgusting – a word that describes many aspects of this movie. Barbara begins to change Jon’s behavior and just might be the one to change his priorities. Or maybe it’ll be Esther (Julianne Moore), Jon’s college classmate. Or maybe Jon won’t change at all.

    As we wait to see whether Jon accepts that he has a problem and remedy his approach to life and love, we’re subjected to Jon and his friends’ gross disrespect of women, Jon’s obnoxious and dysfunctional family (headed by a very loud, foul-mouthed Tony Danza) along with characters’ actions and reactions that don’t make sense and are just plain dumb. Helping the audience (especially sex addicts in the audience) see that pornography can never substitute for true intimacy (and can even inhibit it) is a worthy goal, but, in this case, the destination does not justify the journey.

    So, to sum up, we have a dumb script, disgusting displays, dysfunction and disrespect. Hmm. That’s a lot of Ds in my review of “Don Jon”. I guess one more won’t hurt. This movie’s grade also starts with a “D”.

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