"Somewhat Redemptive, But Raunchy, Comedy"
What You Need To Know:
In pursuing its point that pornography is bad, Gordon-Levitt and his team create some torrid, raunchy content. Their movie also contains abundant, excessive foul language. Finally, DON JON doesn’t go completely all the way toward developing a total Christian mindset. Thus, at the end, the protagonist is still involved in an unmarried sexual relationship, even as he espouses the joys and beauty of monogamy and decries pornography. Overall, therefore, despite the more positive aspects, MOVIEGUIDE® deems DON JON unacceptable viewing, even for adults.
(PaPa, BB, CC, Ab, LLL, SSS, NN, AA, MM) Strong mixed pagan worldview about a conflicted Roman Catholic man’s struggles to break a porn addiction and become a better man both for a new girlfriend and for God, with strong Christian, moral elements but with other content in a salacious way with graphic content and, until his more positive transformation, male protagonist has a cavalier attitude toward the sacrament of Confession and is at first insincere in his sorrow for sins and also lies to priest about his sinfulness decreasing but later confesses to this lie; more than 120 obscenities and profanities; no violence; extreme or very strong sexual content includes graphic depictions of sex in montages of porn with upper and rear female nudity, several other sex scenes often in shadows and implied (sometimes with well-placed bedsheets), dozens of crude terms for women used as lead character, his father and his friends treat women as sex objects, upper male nudity during implied self abuse scene, other crude references to self-abuse and male semen, implied fornication in a jeep, somewhat graphic scene where girlfriend rubs up against male protagonist; upper and rear female nudity and upper male nudity; frequent alcohol use in club scene, where its clear that alcohol is used as an emotional lubricant for sex; no smoking or drugs; and, strong miscellaneous immorality such as lying.
DON JON is a romantic comedy about a conflicted Roman Catholic man’s struggles to break a porn addiction and become a better man both for a new girlfriend and for God. DON JON has a moral conclusion that gives some positive nods to Christian teachings, but the foul language and lewd content used to tell this tale is excessive and unacceptably graphic and strong.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES stars as Jon and makes his writing and directing debut in this movie. He plays a hunky, swaggering, not-too-bright fellow who loves bringing a different girl home from the dance clubs each night. The problem is, Jon loves watching porn even more than he enjoys hooking up. In fact, he rolls right out of bed after his sexual bouts with strangers to surf the Web for ever weirder ways to pleasure himself.
Jon treats the sacrament of Confession as a car wash for his soul. He races to church every Saturday afternoon to cleanse his spirit in time for Sunday Mass, but inevitably lapsing back into a staggering number of sexual sins throughout the next week. Then, he meets a beautiful woman named Barbara, played to comic perfection by Scarlett Johansson. Consequently, Jon finds himself forced to change because Barbara finds porn disgusting and makes him swear he won’t ever watch it again.
As Jon starts to mature into monogamy and starts winning his battle with porn addiction, the impact ripples out across his confused friends and bemused family. He also finds himself taking a night class in college for the first time at Barbara’s behest. There, he meets a sad middle-aged woman named Esther (Julianne Moore), who keeps trying to be his friend even as he pushes her away thinking that the only woman he’ll ever need is Barbara. Then, there’s Jon’s humorous quest to receive a lesser penance of prayers in Confession each week as he tries to improve his behavior.
This synopsis sounds like a creepy and gross subject for a film, but the moral, spiritual battle between the Christian protagonist’s sinful flesh and his higher nature is sometimes clever, funny and even surprisingly touching vision. Jon isn’t a hopeless pervert akin to the character Michael Fassbender played in 2012’s SHAME. He’s more of a humorously conflicted devout Catholic who prays the Our Father while working out daily and frustrates his parish priest with his weekly confessions. Thus, toward the second half especially, Gordon-Levitt weaves a sweet, funny and emotionally stirring tale of a simple guy trying to make sense of a life he realizes is stuck in shallowness. He also shows that pornography (and its false portrayals of physically perfect women with insatiable sexual appetites) are not only degrading to women, but also degrading to the spirits and relationships of the men who watch them.
In pursuing that point, however, Gordon-Levitt and his team create some torrid, raunchy montages showing all manner of sex acts while still trying to make the images empty and ultimately sad. Their movie also contains abundant, excessive foul language. Finally, DON JON doesn’t go all the way to a Christian mindset. Thus, at the end, Jon is still involved in an unmarried sexual relationship, even as he espouses the joys and beauty of monogamy and decries pornography.
Overall, therefore, despite the somewhat positive ending, MOVIEGUIDE® deems DON JON unacceptable viewing, even for adults. Hopefully, in his future personal passion projects, Joseph Gordon-Levitt will focus on the more wholesome and uplifting aspects of the things he wants to say to moviegoers.