Don Jon made quite a splash on the festival circuit, and by the time it hit theaters, the main response was that people weren’t sure if they wanted to see it or not. Talk of a film centering around a masturbation/sex addiction, which isn’t exactly filling seats, wasn’t quite overcome by the interest in seeing anything with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and/or Scarlett Johansson.
In our podcast review we didn’t give it great marks, and that largely came down to the screenplay, which needed to be revised. Despite the flaws, it’s an interesting movie, and a surprisingly engaging bit of entertainment. Unfortunately, from a critic’s perspective, the most interesting thing about it is trying to figure out where it went wrong. But, that’s only because it has a lot of potential, and it doesn’t manage to get on the track that would lead to everything it could have been.
Gordon-Levitt’s Jon Martello is meant to be a certain “type” of guy, and he’s spelled out for you in the trailer with his rundown of things that he cares about. Sure, he fits right in with a lot of similar men, and has friends that are ultimately difficult to distinguish from one another, but he takes certain things up a notch. Our entry into the story relates mostly to sex and masturbation, largely by way of his frequent soliloquys on the subject, but we eventually get hints that Jon is really just an addictive personality. He’s addicted to most everything really, but sex and masturbation, when he can’t find a way to be sufficiently distracted, is the one that takes over his life.
At first, it almost seems that we’re looking at something pretty straight-forward here, with the standard nights at the club, and Jon’s Pavlovian response to his laptop’s start-up noise, but when Jon eventually gets the ultimate girl, we see that there’s a lot more at play here. Throw in his relationship with his church, his parents, and a growing interest in an older woman, and we may be on a far more interesting road than we expect.
The film doesn’t quite pull us into Jon, or his world, to the extent that it clearly believes it does, which makes the efforts of Johansson, and eventually Julianne Moore, less powerful. Thus, several moments don’t deliver, and many of them would have been a lot of fun.
In the end, Jon finds something with Esther (Julianne Moore’s character), who, somewhat to one side of “normal” herself, is perhaps the perfect person for him to meet, but we aren’t on footing solid enough for the connections to feel other than forced. That leads to an end that goes everywhere and nowhere, even if it’s hard to say the journey wasn’t worth taking.
Don Jon Blu-Ray Features
The video is surprisingly high quality considering the film’s overall budget, although that could speak more to the general state of the world of technology at this point. There are some minor problems that nitpickers will find irritating, but they are few and far between. The colors in some of the darker scenes, especially Esther’s house, seem a bit washed out in points, but it isn’t anything that should be particularly bothersome.
The Blu-Ray offers up a set of featurettes that are, in some ways, more worthwhile than the film itself. The Making Of is pretty standard, but it’s of a somewhat more interesting subject, which gives it more to do than most, and works very well. It also leads right into the Origins featurette, which takes us on a short trip through the points that caused the story to come into existence, and even if there is a general idea about why that might be kind of obvious, the featurette is a good one.
Moving past those you get two nicely-worked efforts – Objectified and Themes & Variations – which are beyond the insight and detail you usually get from bonus features, and at the same time hint at the delusions of grandeur you see in the film. These are good bonuses, and you’ll get an interesting view on what was going on in Gordon-Levitt’s mind when he was piecing things together, but there are more interesting ideas that come through in these featurettes than there are in the film itself.
The release is filled out with a couple of shorts from Gordon-Levitt’s company, some trailers, and a couple of other featurettes on less interesting points.
Overall, while the film was not especially impressive, it’s worth watching… well, if there’s any chance you’re interested in it, and the release adds a lot of value.
Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a handsome, good old-fashioned guy known as Don Jon for his ability to bed beautiful women at will. But ironically, even the finest fling doesn’t compare to the bliss Jon finds alone—watching porn on his computer. Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson) is a gorgeous, good old-fashioned girl raised on romantic movies, and she’s determined to find her Prince Charming. Wrestling with expectations of the opposite sex, Jon and Barbara struggle against false fantasies to find true intimacy in this unexpected comedy written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Blu-ray Exclusive Featurettes:
- Making Of Don Jon
- Don Jon’s Origin
- Joe’s Hats
- Themes & Variations
Blu-ray & DVD Features:
- HitRECord Shorts
- My Favorite Things Remix: Love of Objects
- Theatrical Trailer and Previews