As an Italian-American, I despise guidos because of the bad rap they give us. I can’t even express my Italian pride without being accused of being a guido, despite the fact that I am about as far from being a guido as the entire cast of Jersey Shore are from being productive members of society. Needless to say, I was ecstatic when that pathetic excuse for entertainment was finally cancelled. Normally I would rather eat at the Olive Garden than see a movie like Don Jon, but it looked different and I have enough faith in Joseph Gordon-Levitt for me to believe that it would be worthwhile. I already thought he was a good actor, so I wanted to see what he could do as a director and screenwriter.
Gordon-Levitt plays Jon Martello, a stereotypical guido in every sense of the word, whose main focus in life, aside from his body, his apartment, his car, his family, his faith, his friends, and his many hookups, is his pornography. His addiction to porn is so strong that he prefers watching it over having real sex, despite the fact that he gets plenty of it, mostly after meetings girls at nightclubs. His porn obsession causes him to have unrealistic expectations of women and sex, leading to major problems in his relationships, particularly with his new girlfriend, Barbara Sugarman, played by Scarlett Johansson. The film starts out mainly as a comedy, but it becomes more serious when the backstory of Julianne Moore’s character, Esther, who Jon meets at a class that Barbara forces him to take, is revealed. I will not go into that here because it would give away too much.
Julianne Moore may be over 50, but I’m sure most 40 to 45-year-olds wish they looked half as good as she does, and she is excellent in her role. Both Gordon-Levitt and Johansson have the Jersey accent down pat. JGL actually wrote the part of Barbara with Scarlett in mind, and she seems to fit the role perfectly. The cast also includes Tony Danza, who plays Jon’s father, Jon Sr., which is a cool little reunion from Angels in the Outfield nearly 20 years ago. All of the characters are very real, and I’d say this is one of the most accurate depictions of relationships in modern times that I’ve seen.
The ending seemed pretty abrupt, but it still leaves the audience with a valuable message. It’s a solid directorial debut, and I have a feeling this is only the beginning of JGL has to offer as a filmmaker. Don Jon is out on DVD/Blu-ray starting Tuesday, December 31, so make sure you check it out.