Review: Don Jon (2013)

DON JON MOVIE POSTER“Movies and porn are different, Jon. They give awards for movies.”
– Barbara

Jon “Don Jon” Martello Jr (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is an attractive, egotistical and shallow porn addict. An addict though he does not know it. His friends consider him to be a Don Juan of the modern day. He sleeps with a lot of women, though he still watches a lot of porn, being of the opinion that it is superior to sex. He loves his family, his car, his body, his home, his friends, his church, his girls and his pornography, though not in that order exactly. One night out he meets a girl and she is just gorgeous for him in every which way. He flirts with her and makes out with her but she leaves to go home at the end of the night without him. He is not deterred, and picks up another girl and goes home with her. After their night is spent together, he goes and watches pornography. The real deal simply doesn’t live up to that which pornographic dreams he has.

don jon at the club

“Since last Sunday I had sexual relations out of wedlock two times. I also watched pornographic videos and masturbated seventeen times. For these, and all the sins in my life, I am sorry.” – Jon

Doing something completely out of character when he cannot stop thinking about the mysterious girl at the club that turned his one night stand down, he starts asking around about her and learns that her name is Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johannson), and gets hold of her to meet him for lunch. The two circle around each other, both being the unknown quantity. They are both attracted to one another, but she refuses to sleep with him and that be all the relationship is about. The two start dating one another, and Jon needs to make do without sex for more than a month. Jon is also taking classes at night so that he can get a more stable job than that from the service industry. Jon introduces Barbara to his mother Angela (Glenne Headly), father Jon Martello Sr (Tony Danza) and sister Monica (Brie Larson). The family seems to like her a lot. Barbara starts changing a lot of things in Jon’s life, and he allows it to happen, but does not see the bigger picture.

don jon couple

“You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” – Jon

The couple finally sleeps together, though Jon is disappointed with the result. He was expecting the sex to be the best thing ever. After they are done, naturally he gets up to watch porn. Barbara catches him and freaks out, leaving Jon to lie to her about it being a joke email that one of the guys sent to her. Calming down, she believes him and things go back to normal. Jon starts to hide his tendency to watch porn, getting his fix where he can. At college he meets a woman named Esther (Julianne Moore), emotional and very strange. She catches him watching porn but does not judge him. The two eventually enter into a very strange friendship, and Jon starts confiding his secrets to her. Jon and Barbara’s relationship is far from perfect, and the longer they are together the more controlling she becomes, and he allows it. She puts him down about the things that he finds to be personally satisfying, and eventually their relationship starts to splinter, though Jon is in love with her. Discovering porn in Jon’s browser, Barbara calls an end to their relationship, though Jon will not tell anyone.


“If you wanna lose yourself, you have to lose yourself in another person. It’s a two way thing.” – Esther

Will they be able to find a way to work past their differences? Will Jon stop lying to Barbara about the porn? Will Jon find a way to enjoy sex as much as he does pornography, or is that something that is just never going to matter? Will Barbara be the woman to teach him that women are there for more than just sexual gratification and the stroking of the male ego? Will Jon complete his college classes so that he has an education behind him?

Don Jon earns a 6.5/10. This really was not a bad outing for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and again he showcases his talents here, taking it up a notch to include directing, too. I enjoyed the movie for what it was, giving another look at how some people may perceive porn to be, as well as the insane track record Jon had created for himself, and how incredibly selfish and dissatisfied he is no matter what. The way he changes tack and attempts to go on the straight and narrow to get laid in a more satisfying way had me laughing. Scarlett Johannson was brilliant to play Barbara, and she, too, was as selfish as her male counterpart. It seemed a match made in heaven, though naturally, nothing was changed too much from him. Listening to Jon defend his pornographic enjoyment was funny and sad both at the same time, because it truly highlights that he is an addict. I had to laugh at how/where Jon exercised his penance according to the Catholic Church – in gym while working out. Also, the way it shows how Jon really did love the church, and considered it to have a huge impact in his life, just to learn that he is a mere member to them, nothing more, nothing special. Monica says nothing throughout the film, but when Brie Larson was utelised to say what was required, it carried so much more impact. Julianne Moore was again worth checking out, she was emotional and she carried her character well. I thought she was well cast, though there were so many complaints. Definitely not a movie I would say is family friendly viewing, it is not too bad to check out when you have the time.

40 thoughts on “Review: Don Jon (2013)

  1. Good review Zoe. The last-half sort of seems like a jumble of too many ideas, but overall, JGL does a nice enough job here to where I can fully feel confident in his skills as a director.


    • Thanks Dan! I must say I agree there, the last half was just a little cooked, but I liked the way it ended (I thought it was completely relevant for the entire film). I would love to see what else he will be able to do!


  2. Great review of a very interesting little movie!! As a modest JGL fan I think I was more biased but i do recognize its flaws. There was a lot of stuff going on but otherwise a very. . . interesting take on relationships, sex and addictions. Pretty funny too! 😀


    • Thanks Tom. Yeah, I must say it wasn’t too bad, and handled the subject matter reasonably well. It had its moment and it certainly had its flaws but it was overall not a bad flick!

      Are we going to be gushing about someone again?! 😉


      • oh holy crap, how did I overlook Inception lol. Well, that explains why that film was such a mind-effer then. haha!

        Yeah, we should hope for something awesome real soon. Fortunately there’s a lot of 2014 left to cover


      • Bwahahaha, that AND it was helmed by Nolan, the absolute master of film… damn fine little thing it was! 😛

        There truly is… well, buckle up and we shall see where 2014 takes up!


    • Thank you Chris! I think purely for that purpose it would be worth looking into. Not an awful flick, just not the greatest of all time, but shows that there is certainly potential!


  3. Excellent review Zoe! Many had their issues with this but I just had tissues! 😉 Jesting aside, I really enjoyed it. A great spin on the rom-com and I was impressed by everyone involved. JGL promises good things for the future.


  4. Good review.

    And I mostly agree. This wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t great. JGL shows some promise as a director and gives his typical quality turn as an actor. But his screenplay . . . just doesn’t measure up. Not here, anyway.


  5. Excellent review, Zoe! I think we’re on the same page with this one. It’s not a bad directing debut for JGL, and it’s a pretty clever examination of addiction, but the way it ends just leaves something to be desired. I’m excited to see what he does next though!


  6. I agree that Scarlett was great, I enjoyed the film but I thought Levitt had no idea what he wanted to do with Moore – her whole story arc with him was a mess.


  7. I really enjoyed this film. A bit more than you did it seems, as I loved it. I cannot even begin to count how many times my girlfriend gave me a dirty look as we were watching it because according to her, Levitt’s character was near identical to me. Good written review Zoe!


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