Don Jon, A Wacky Romantic Comedy (Film Review)



Multitasking with the movie Don Jon actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt directs, writes and stars in this wacky film.  It’s a narrative that takes on a serious subject turning it into an outrageous comedy. The off the wall story of opposites attract in a world of social change that’s devoid of inhibitions and morality offers a tome that’s upbeat and cynical.  And, for Gordon-Levitt the subject matter works in his fast paced comedy because his stars deliver the offbeat personalities for the hilarious script. 

People deal with their demons in different ways.  Take “Don” Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) for example; he’s a fun loving guy, has a tight circle of friends, goes to church every Sunday, gets salvation from his priest and keeps his family close with visits for dinner once a week. His biggest flaw is watching porn and masturbation daily, um…a lot of times daily.  His doesn’t have a steady girl, but he always gets hooked up at the local bar that’s a hot spot for eye candy and cherry picking.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jon Martello in DON JON

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jon Martello in DON JON

But, Jon wants more to life and one night at the bar he meets Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson) a down to earth hot babe that has her head together on the subject of love, life and the movies.  But when Barbara catches Jon in front of the computer one late night watching porn, his whole life gets turned upside down.

Jon Sr (Tony Danza), Angela (Glenne Headly), Jon (Gordon-Levitt), and  Monica (Brie Larson) in DON JON

Jon Sr (Tony Danza), Angela (Glenne Headly), Jon (Gordon-Levitt), and Monica (Brie Larson) in DON JON

The story gets wacky and outrageously funny with friends and family members getting in on Jon’s romantic problem. Gordon-Levitt keeps his film upbeat bringing in characters that turn up the laughter to side-splitting levels. He brings Tony Danza back to the screen making him his father, an old time Italian and patriarch of the Martello’s he’s always got to put his two cents of wisdom into a conversation.  Keeping the New Jersey Italian accent throughout the film, he and the other cast members nail the persona of the area known for talking like they have a mouthful of gum.

Gordon-Levitt chooses the right actors for his cast getting the most out of their comedic talent.  He works with professionals that put their all into the fun characters.  Glenne Headly (The Joneses) makes a great devoted mother who wants only the best for her son.  When she hears that Jon has a steady girlfriend she’s already making plans for a wedding.  Playing his sister Monica, Brie Larson (21 Jump Street) doesn’t talk much; her facial expressions are her conversation responses.  When she does have something to say, it’s the right words at the right moment for a hilarious retort.  Jon’s buddies played by Rob Brown as Bobby and Jeremy Luke as Danny are his clones, but not as confident and outgoing.  They support his every move helping him work a room to get the top girls they call “10 cents”.

Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) in Don Jon

Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) in Don Jon

When it comes to a Jersey girl Scarlet Johansson has it down pat.  As Barbara she knows how to ‘play’ guys, dresses like “The Lady in Red” and drags her catches around on a short leash.  She’s a pistol with her thick “Jersey Shore” accent and body gestures making her picture perfect for what Jon would think of as an angel. Controlling most of the situations between the two, she’s already been put on his mantel next to God and his family.  It’s the kind of performance up there with Marisa Tomei as Mono Lisa Vito in My Cousin Vinny, sharp, spunky and in control.

Direction, writing and acting is tough for anyone in the film business, but Gordon-Levitt sails through his film showing brilliance that not many have been able to equal.  His ability to set up his shots, work in his cast and step in front of the camera becoming part of it all shows how far he has come in the business. He keeps his film snappy and comedic sharp letting his characters show their ability to bounce off his Jon Martello and give their best performances.

Don Jon has been rated R by the MPAA for strong graphic sexual material and dialogue throughout, nudity, language and some drug use.  It’s the kind of film you go to see with your best buds, but if you really want to laugh sit behind a group of ladies that have come to see what the film’s all about. As far as the language, just think Jennifer Carpenter’s character Debra Morgan in Showtime’s Dexter or Teddy in Ted.

FINAL ANALYSIS: It may be a bit wacky, but Don Jon’s the best adult comedy since Ted. (A)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, Brie Larson, Rob Brown and Jeremy Luke
Directed by: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Genre: Comedy, Drama (serious comedy)
MPAA Rating: R for strong graphic sexual material and dialogue throughout, nudity, language and some drug use     
Running Time: 1 hr 30 min
Opening Date: September 27, 2013
Distributed by: Relativity Media

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