Craig's First Take: "Don Jon"
on 2013-09-30 10:41
If I have to watch another movie about people addicted to their own sexual pleasures this year, it will be too soon. “Thanks for Sharing” was vague, but Joseph Gordon Levitt’s writing-directorial debut “Don Jon” feels even worse, it’s obvious, simplistic, and dull.
He also stars in the film as buffed up, church-going ladies man Jon, a New Jersey bartender who spends much of his time at the club with his boys and the rest analyzing how the girls he brings home are never able to stack up to the girls he watches in the million pornos he has downloaded on his computer. But there is something about Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson) that makes him want to try a different tact. Barbara is kind of a shrew about porn but not about being sexually manipulating to get what she wants, forcing Jon to keep his excessive porn habit on the QT.
I admire how Levitt wants to make a movie about how the fantasy of, say a porno for men, or a romantic comedy for women, leads to the wrong sorts of expectations in a real relationship. It’s employed to a funny degree sometimes on a show like “The Mindy Project”, but here two selfish people battling to be masters of this relationship only look like it’s headed for disaster. And they’re not the compromising sort like in Levitt’s “(500) Days of Summer”, both apparently never got the memo that you can’t be rigid in a relationship.
It’s not til Julianne Moore unbelievably comes in later to play life coach, and one part of a ridiculously contrived ending, to Jon that he finally realizes what the audience has known all along.
Glenne Headly and Tony Danza also show up here as Jon’s clichéd Italian parents, another occasion Levitt uses to exercise his only real joke, exaggerated Italian accents yelling profanity at each other. It’s not great but considering the rest of it is so pointless, the shouting actually comes as a relief.