May 30, 2014
ScarJo And Swiffers Are The Only Good Things In Don Jon
I wanted to love this movie, really I did. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (3rd Rock from the Sun! 500 Days of Summer!) makes his writing-directing debut while starring opposite Scarlett Johansson (Ghost World! Scoop!) and Julianne Moore (Boogie Nights! The Big Lebowski!). And yet…and yet the movie starts with a voice-over monologue about masturbating to porn and picking up chicks that is so crass that the film never quite recovers.
The long and short of it: Don Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, looking like Pauly D’s long lost brother from Jersey Shore), plays a guy with a porn addiction. But he’s not a loser, since he picks up lots of chicks with his friends Turtle and The Black Guy. Finally he gets into a longish-term relationship with hotsy-totsy Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson) that looks like it is going places, except porn porn porn and the relationship is over. At last he comes to grips with his addiction with the help of Esther (Julianne Moore), a Seductive Experienced Older Woman who shows up because the premise of the movie basically requires her to.
Things that are wrong with this movie:
- Voice-over monologues about “porn pussy” versus “real pussy” are no way to start a film, son.
- They never quite tell you what Don Jon does for a living, but it has something to do with the “service industry” wink-wink, like there’s going to be a big reveal later in the movie. But then it turns out he’s a bartender. And we never see him tending bar. Did they cut a scene?
- You can either make a rom-com with Scarlett Johansson, or you could make a dark exploration of the human soul with Julianne Moore, but you can’t do both. Not in the same film, anyway.
- There are two scenes involving an Italian-American family arguing over dinner that are so hackish (The Daily Show did a supercut of this trope just last night!) that they could only work as satire, but apparently are meant to be taken at face-value. Stop upsetting your mama (whap!)
Things that are right with this movie:
- There’s a scene where a discussion of Swiffers spins out of control in a way that nails the absurdity of an argument in a going-nowhere relationship.
- Scarlett Johansson is perfect as the girl who is the hottest piece of ass in some Jersey town, and knows it.
I give this movie two and a half stars, or bowties or whatever, because I got to sneak into Elysium afterward and that movie rocked.