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Gavin Grades The Movies

Don Jon (Rated: R)

There isn't a soul on this planet who hates Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  I'm totally right, aren't I?  Girls think he's cute as a button and sweet and sensitive and sexy.  Guys think he's funny and cool and hip and shockingly tough.  Regardless of your sex or sexual orientation, we can all agree the guy is talented.  Someone who started out as a child actor making the same dumpy movies that child actors make; but in the last couple years, he's really chosen some impressive and challenging roles in some of the best films of those years.  So when I heard that he was writing, directing and starring in a romantic comedy I thought the guy from Inception, Looper, (500) Days of Summer, Lincoln, The Dark Knight Rises and 50/50 deserved my full attention.

The premise for Don Jon is pretty inspired.  It follows a Jersey douchebag as he struggles with his porn addiction in a new relationship.  I know that doesn't sound very original but it poses the question "What creates more false expectations in a relationship - men and their porn or women and their romantic movies?"  It's a conversation that couples will have with each other for days after seeing the movie and it's one that's challenging and important; unfortunately the movie itself is not.

I give Gordon-Levitt (HEAR MY FULL INTERVIEW WITH HIM BELOW) a lot of credit because Don Jon is impressive for a first-time effort in writing and directing.  The problem is that it has the depth of a Sex and the City episode.  That's not really a slam on either but they have their place in entertainment and quality isn't one of them.  What makes it even worse is that the characters are all cliches and one-dimensional.  What does that lead to?  Predictability and heaps of it.  From the opening credits you can successfully predict where the film is gonna go and how it's gonna end.

The other mistake Gordon-Levitt made was making it so incredibly sexually graphic that most of the women who go to see it will be turned off by it and guys sitting next to them will be too uncomfortable to enjoy it.  Remember that the main character has a porn addiction, right?  Well, there are lots of actual clips of actual porn in the film and when you add them all up, you probably will have watched a full three minutes of XXX porn.  Now, I'm no prude and it didn't turn me off but it did shock me that a mainstream Hollywood film would make a film that would be advertised to attract one type of audience just to turn them off before they have a chance to enjoy anything about it.  But maybe Gordon-Levitt did that to challenge the audience and for that I have to respect his decision but I still think it was a mistake.

Don Jon isn't a film for everyone which is a shame because with the right fine-tuning it could have been.  The biggest tragedy is that it's about something that most couples should be dunked in and prompted to discuss with each other.  But there isn't anything super funny, super moving or super original.  The good news for JGL though is that he's still covered in "Clooney Coolness" (as I tell him in the interview), so no matter how you feel about Don Jon, his fanbase will remain steadfast.

Listen to Gavin's full interview with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, writer, director, and star of Don Jon:

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People : Don JonGavin GradeJoseph Gordon-Levitt


09/26/2013 9:15PM
Don Jon
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09/27/2013 9:38AM
Sami C
The p0rn clips didn't faze me at all. I believe it adds to the story. It's a movie about a guy with a p0rn addiction, so expect p0rn in it. I was surprised there wasn't enough nudity, actually. What did make me squirm a little was the hallway dry humping scene, because it was just so awkward and I felt bad because JGL's character was clearly being teased. There were a few slow, dragging scenes sprinkled around, but other than that, it was a good movie. I love JGL, but I wouldn't pay for it. I was lucky I got to watch the advanced screening.
09/27/2013 9:41AM
Sami C
Regarding my first comment, I don't know why "p0rn" is considered a profane word. I feel like a douchebag high schooler typing it in 133T. Your filter is way too uptight and needs to chill.
12/22/2013 6:47PM
Not a douche
P0RN is expected. Don't be a douche.
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