Rugger Review: Don Jon
Summary: Jonny is so good with the ladies his friends have dubbed him “Don Jon”. Unfortunately, an addiction to internet porn has left Jon with unrealistic expectations when it comes to the women in his life, who leave him less satisfied than his online hobby. But after meeting his true love, can Jon change his ways?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has slowly but surely been working his way up to leading man status in some of the smartest films to come out in the last decade (Looper, 50/50, Inception, (500) Days of Summer).
Most would say he hasn’t yet reached his full potential but at 32, he still has plenty of time. Those people will most certainly change their thinking after watching his directorial debut which he also wrote and headlines.
This kind of triple threat in Hollywood rarely sees success, with either the writing, the directing or the acting dipping in standard as actors-turned-directors usually struggle with at least one aspect (Ben Affleck the most recent to find success doing all three).
Yet, rather than succumb to the added weight on his shoulders, JGL thrives on it, turning in one of this years smartest and funniest films.
Don Jon finds itself coming along after Shame and Thanks for Sharing have both dealt with sex addiction but here, the addiction is porn, and more so, Jon’s unrealistic expectations of real women.
Kicking things off in the glow of a laptop screen, straight away we know the route this is going. If you think you might have a problem watching little Cameron from 10 Things I Hate About You constantly masturbating, then this might be one to avoid.
Jon’s a man who knows what he wants. He likes his apartment clean, his car shiny and his ladies a “ten”. He and his friends like to hang out in bars rating girls, before Jon takes home the best of the bunch.
But it’s not enough. For Jon’s addiction to internet porn has left him hollow inside after real sex, missing that connection he feels he has with porn stars.
What makes this different from JGL’s standard fare is that Jon is a despicable human being, who only sees women as objects to be used how he likes. When they don’t please him enough, he turns to the objects on his computer to satisfy him.
Jon eventually meets his match in Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) who is a knockout in every sense of the word. Yet for all her seemingly flawless attributes, Barbara, like Jon, has unrealistic expectations of the opposite sex due to her love of rom-coms.
So don’t be expecting Barbara to change Jon for the better. These are real people dealing with real problems.
JGL has picked his support well. Tony Danza playing his father bags most of the biggest laughs, while Julianne Moore grounds the film in the third act as a classmate of Jon’s with her own issues.
But the film belongs to Gordon-Levitt. Jon should be despised by everyone watching, but JGL can’t help but make you like him. Even when Jon is at his worst, you still want him to find redemption.
Bringing his own unique visual style to the fore, JGL elevates his debut beyond just a simple indie drama and with his own production label firmly in place, we can’t wait to see what he delivers next.
Final Verdict: Knocking it out of the park on his debut as writer-director, Joseph Gordon Levitt proves that so far, there’s nothing he can’t do. While it’s not a masterpiece, Don Jon is a solid effort dealing with a very real issue whilst bringing plenty of (albeit awkward) laughs to the table.
Star Rating: 4/5
* Review by Stephen Connolly