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‘Don Jon’ review: Gordon-Levitt flick entertaining, sometimes uncomfortable

Before “Don Jon” was released, Joseph Gordon-Levitt went around promoting his “daring new comedy” and talked about how it deals with the effect of media on today’s society. After seeing it, I have to ask myself, did it?

The basic premise is this: Jon Martello (Gordon-Levitt), nicknamed Don Jon, is a stereotypical New Jersey ladies’ man who happens to be addicted to porn. His life is pretty routine: get up, work as a bartender (where we rarely, if ever, see him), hang with his bros, take some girl home and watch porn somewhere along the way. Cue Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), a “10” according to Jon who seems perfect except for the fact that she is addicted to romantic comedies. He brings her home to meet his parents and even to church, and she makes him take a night class; they’re a wonderful couple. But after she discovers that he watches porn even when they’re together, things get a little dicey. When she catches him again, she breaks up with him, leaving Jon devastated. Along the way, Jon has met Esther (Julianne Moore), who is taking the same night class and has her own baggage. The first time they meet, Esther is crying in the doorway and Jon ignores her, but over time their relationship blossoms until finally Jon is learning more from this woman than from the supposed “perfect Barbara.”

The movie, to give a basic synopsis, is about a young man discovering how to open himself up to love and learning to get over his unrealistic expectations. What it doesn’t tell you, however, is how many clips of porn were interjected into the hour-and-a-half movie. Almost every five minutes, I felt like I was being bombarded by Jon’s computer’s start-up sound, signaling the start of his porn-watching, and then, boom: welcome to the Internet.

While I understand the basic reasoning behind these clips, I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable as I sat in a theater next to some kid I see occasionally around campus. I hear the words of my mother who is always complaining about the “rampant use of sexuality in movies these days.”

Aside from the bombardment of boobs, I found that the dialogue was occasionally a little stale. Maybe it was because I knew that this was Gordon-Levitt’s first movie that he wrote and directed, but I found myself being very nitpicky over the character development and dialogue. The characters were stereotypical, which I was worried about going in, but in a funny way. Jon’s relationship with his father, played by Tony Danza, was enjoyable—they fought loudly and often, and his relationship with his mother (Glenne Headly) was one we could all relate to. Jon’s sister, played by Brie Lawson, spent the majority of the movie on her phone until her silent wisdom was displayed in order to help Jon get over Barbara.

My favorite part of the movie, however, is when Jon and Barbara go to the movies to see a romantic comedy starring Anne Hathaway and Channing Tatum, which spoofs rom-coms in a perfect way. Add to that a movie poster outside the theater of John Krasinski and Emily Blunt in some action thriller, and you have the true message of the movie: entertainment is ridiculous, and we should really try to live our lives without the unrealistic expectations we get from movies. Or porn.

“Don Jon” opens this Friday, Sept. 27.

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  • Bruce Blackstone says:

    While I understand the basic reasoning behind these clips, I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable as I sat in a theater next to some kid I see occasionally around campus. I hear the words of my mother who is always complaining about the “rampant use of sexuality in movies these days.” -the whole point of the movie was to show that we are constantly being bombarded by sex. EVERYWHERE. It is unavoidable, and I believe he did this subject because many young men are having this problem. So your mother is right, but really it doesn’t relate to this movie as that is the point that they are trying to show. They couldn’t really exhibit this without showing just how ridiculous it is in real life. JGL really HAD to use the absurd amount of sexuality in order to show what Jon is going through. The whole movie is a satire about this exact subject.

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