Rob Reviews: Don Jon

JGL as  juice-head in "Don Jon".
JGL plays a juice-head in “Don Jon”.

As some of you may have noticed, I like to review movies or books that I find to be interesting or thought-provoking.  In keeping with the origins of this blog, I also like to review “guy books”  or “guy movies”. In this entry, I will review the latter…

A few weekends back, I chose to finally sit down and watch Don Jon .  Don Jon, the writing/directorial debut of Joseph Gordon Levitt ended up being a mixed bag.  I remember the ads for this movie as it was  being released theatrically.  They made it looked like a straight-up fratire-style comedy.  I expected this to be a bawdy “guy movie”.  In the beginning it was, only  to turn into something much different.

JGL (as The Auteur calls him) plays John, a stereotypical Italian-American “juice head” in the tradition of John Travolta’s Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever.  He loves his clothes, his car, his apartment, his family and his church.   On the surface John is a Lothario, bedding women left and right and is definitely the alpha-male of his entourage.  However behind closed doors, John is a closet porn addict.  In fact, he admits to liking porn better than actual sex –  much to the chagrin of his in-movie girlfriend Barbara – played by Scarlett Johansson.

At this point, I expected John to spend the rest of the movie trying to win back Barbara in typical romcom fashion, but the story takes a few different turns.  At Barbara’s behest, John returns to college.  There, he meets Esther (Julianne Moore).  John and Esther have some May-September chemistry that ultimately turns physical.  Their tryst is therapeutic for both of them:   Esther comes to terms with her own personal losses; John ultimately learn the difference between casual sex and making love, thereby enabling him to pursue deeper more meaningful relationships.

The movie’s ending is anti-climactic.  We never see John find Ms. Right, or even a Ms. Maybe for that matter.   Ultimately, Don Jon is a slice-of-life personal narrative.  It isn’t happily ever after tale  it was portrayed as in commercials.  It simply tells the story of a young man and an experience that made him a better person.  It was one of those unusual experiences where advertisers sell us one story and the filmmakers tell us a better one.

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