Monday, October 7, 2013
3 Thoughts on Don Jon
1. It's full of good intentions - While I'm not fully on board with this movie, as a whole, I can't deny that it's packed with good stuff. I would say that I agree with most of the bold words listed on the poster (except "stellar" and "hilarious"). It's definitely a different look at relationships; an honest look. However, it's not in the same category as other "honest" movies about relationships - movies like Blue Valentine that make you want to slit your wrists. Instead, it remains charming and light; there is a clear voice and direction. For Joseph Gordon-Levitt's first foray into writing and directing, I think it's a quite a success.
2. It's full of stereotypes - This movie relies heavily on stereotypes, because really, it wouldn't work without them. The first big stereotype: girls like sappy romance movies, boys like porn. The tagline "There's more to life than a happy ending" is actually quite smart, because it relates to the girly rom-com "happy ending" and also, to the porn "happy ending". Sure, this is probably a stereotype that's pretty true to life. I guess my problem with this is that I find it hard to believe that there are women out there who believe that life is like a rom-com. Also, while the main character suffers from an obsession with porn, I think porn, in general, is pretty harmless. *Slight spoiler ahead, but it's in the trailer* The big fight that occurs between the couple occurs because she checks his browser history and finds porn (after he claims he never watches it). The biggest problem with this fight is that SHE CHECKS HIS BROWSER HISTORY. Why do women think this behavior is ok? I have several female friends who have come to me for relationship advice (no idea why) who start off the conversation with "well, I was checking his email...", "I saw a text on his phone..." etc. I stop the conversation there. If you feel the need to go through his personal stuff, then end the relationship. Period. Also, back to the porn, I really don't understand what the big deal is. If you think your boyfriend doesn't watch porn, you are in denial (although, I don't think ALL guys watch porn, and I am sure plenty of girls enjoy porn, as well). I actually know this girl (who is from NJ, I'll get to the whole NJ part of the movie in a minute), who got breast implants and her reason (that she actually admitted out loud) is because her husband watched porn and he claimed that he only watched it because she was flat-chested. So, she got implants and now her marriage is "perfect" (that story simultaneously makes me laugh and cry). So, the second big stereotype: people from NJ are horrible, horrible people. It's a shame that reality shows like The Jersey Shore and Real Housewives have given NJ a really bad name. I made NJ my home a few years ago, and I can't deny that these people do exist. Fortunately, I found a part of NJ where it's not quite as bad, but I still find that most people care about the "image" that they present to people. Just recently, I had a co-worker try to set me up with a guy she knows. I asked "is he funny?" and she responded "um...he drives a brand new Mercedes" (another story that simultaneously makes me laugh and cry). It's a sad, sad world we live in, and I hardly think it's specific to New Jersey, but it's definitely more present here than anywhere else I've ever lived.
3. It's full of surprises - *slight spoilers* I think the biggest complaint I have about the movie, is that it moved a little slow and it wasn't as funny as I expected. The best part of the movie is JGL singing "Good Vibrations". It's shown in the trailer, so I looked forward to it for the whole movie. The scene finally comes after a series of surprising events. After the big fight between the couple, the story changes into a story of self-discovery and it's actually quite moving. I think it will open up a lot of dialogue between couples, and hopefully it's a bit eye-opening for some. The films entire narrative is set up as a glorification of porn, until suddenly it's not. As a whole, the story is taking a clear stance against it - as our main character suddenly learns to let go of his anger and connect with other human beings, after he stops watching it. It's actually a story about overcoming addiction (anything in excess is bad for you), which I wasn't expecting. Another surprise came with the sister - played by Brie Larson, who is much more astute to her surroundings than you think she is. There are some great family moments, that give depth to Don Jon. And the biggest surprise of all....Scarlett Johansson is really good in this role. I've made it very clear, that I am not a fan of her as an actress, but she really went for it with this role and I have to give credit when it's due.