With the reality show Jersey Shore becoming more and more a fading memory, it’s surprising it took this long for someone to make a movie about a GTL (Gym, tan, laundry) loving guido. JGL stars as Jon “Don Jon” Martello Jr. a promiscuous bachelor who’s not sure who he loves more, his girl (Scarlett Johansson), or his hand. A satirical critique of porn obsession, Don Jon marks JGL’s first time behind the camera as a writer and director. The pieces don’t always fit, but the whole is a promising start for a directing career by the man who once starred as an adult alien in the body of a little boy.
Don Jon loves his body, his pad, his family, his church, his boys, his girls, and his porn. Scratch that… He REALLY loves his porn. There’s nothing Jon finds more gratifying than the thrill of choking the bishop to the church of poon. This is all made clear in Jon’s voice-over, which gives some very entertaining insight into his views of gettin’ it on. The film works best when we dive right into the mind of Don Jon, like each page of the script is a page from Jon’s personal diary. What doesn’t work is that diary has no final chapter. I’m all for slice of life stories, but with little at stake there’s not much to get worked up about. Jon might be looking for love in all the wrong places but everything else in his life seems pretty sweet.
You never get the sense that Jon’s porno addiction is that detrimential. I’d like to say that it would have been better had that been explored deeper but then you’d just get the movie Shame, which although not always easy to watch is a better movie. From the moment Jon starts his relationship with Barbara (ScarJo) you feel like something wacky is going to unfold but then it doesn’t. She sees Jon watching porn but that same clip is in the trailer. The film’s real curveball is an older, lonely woman named Esther (Julianne Moore), whom Jon forms an unusual bond with. Somehow this relationship feels meant for a different movie entirely.
I like JGL’s performance and I like the humor but I the story feels flat. JGL found an amusing jumping off point with a guido who loves porno but didn’t seem to know where to take it. The commentary on porn watching is probably the film’s strongest attribute and I wish I’d gotten even more of that. I also could of used more Tony Danza as Jon’s dad. I like to think of this film as the spiritual successor to Angels in the Outfield.