Don Jon

By Christopher Redmond

Mailed on September 27, 2013

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Dear Avisari Kangas
Pornography Consultant

Dear Avisari,

So, eh? Is that your go-to? I noticed the logo got some awkward laughs of recognition from my audience, but more than once Don Jon's titular hero is seen lustfully punching "porn hub" into the keyboard before indulging in his thrice-daily (minimum) habit. This had to be your recommendation. There's no way that a sweet-natured, Hollywood heartthrob like Joseph-Gordon Levitt should be familiar with such a depraved portal. I mean, sure, he wrote, directed, and stars in the film, but clearly he needed an expert like you to understand a subject as marginal as pornography. Which means you obviously provided all the other porn-related insights as well, even if they were central to the making of this refreshingly funny and unflinching first feature.

Or maybe - just maybe - there's a part of Joseph-Gordon Levitt that wants the option to point his sticky finger at someone else if he's ever grilled about his inspirations.

That's only natural. Even amongst men, it's pretty rare to discuss the dirty deed of masturbating to pornography. And when it comes to sharing that information with a romantic partner, forget it. Most women are bound to react like Scarlett Johansson's character, Barbara, when she finds out that her new boyfriend Jon prefers the pleasure of pixels over the pressure of real intimacy. I can understand her reaction, but on the other hand (you know which one), I also really appreciated that this movie "went there", without treating the subject with a cold, sedated--yet strangely judgmental-- approach like Steve McQueen's Shame.

To achieve this accessible and comedic tone, and no doubt distance himself from the character, Gordon-Levitt paints his protagonist in fairly broad (but aggressive) strokes. Jon's a womanizing, church-going, road-raging, gym rat who both looks and sounds like a character from Jersey Shore. His family dinners are loud and raucous, his evenings are spent picking-up "dimes" (women he considers a 10), and even after a night of sex, he can't help but sneak out of bed, boot up his Mac and crank one off. But it's the details of the ritual that are so amusing - how the sound of his computer turning on turns him on, the careful time spent browsing before committing to a video, and the unfortunate moments when a climax is ruined by the camera suddenly panning over a man. Only a true pornography enthusiast and professional consultant could be familiar with such vivid details. Right?

Frankly, I would have to be a sick man to say any of these (albeit exaggerated) obsessions resonated with me. So I won't. My wife reads these reviews from time to time.

But as far as movies for adults go - not "adult movies" - I can say pretty openly that I enjoyed this film. It's light without being fluff, and even has a few late but welcomed character surprises. Only Don Jon's low-budget production limitations seemed to bother me, like repeating framing and sequences over and over and over. Or was that just paying homage to porn tropes?

I wouldn't know.

Turning off,


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