Don Jon: A Good Vibration

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When I turn on Google maps it tells me where to go as I listen to Spotify. The only time my hands move is when the volume needs to be accelerated. Thinking is required but not a lot of it. I simply move to the beat of Ginuwine and Google, zombified by the youngsters in their chic outfits parading on the city streets.  The days of opening maps and asking for directions are long gone as the only thing I will ever need in this world is a smart phone.

We all strive for perfection and technology allows us to have it.  Options for accessible communication are endless as these possibilities allow us to become extremely particular.   From Facebook, Instagram, Twitter to O.K. Cupid and Grinder apps, the world is at our fingertips but we prefer to look, not touch.  Technology has put us at such a standstill human contact is no longer necessary.  “Don” Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) falls under this trap; a man in his 30’s with no family to support has the ability to establish an ideal life for himself.  Jon goes to the gym, cleans, and consumes sex at a competitive rate—as if life would somehow fall apart if his routine were set off.

But like the turn of a dime in walks Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) to change up his routine.  Suddenly Jon must question aspects of his life, which includes porn in heavy rotation.  Like many in his generation, Jon is not equipped for compromise but does the best he can.  At first he and Barbara try on a snow globe version of relationship bliss where they meet the parents, shop, go to the gym and movies together all while enjoying great sex.  What more could one want in a relationship?

Turns out relationships and chemistry are tricky and Jon realizes there is more to Barbara and himself than meets the eye.  Self-exploration is inventible in this dramedy written and directed by its star, but the film is crafted in such an original way that the audience will be pleasantly surprised by Jon’s journey.   At first it seems strange that the kid from 3rd Rock From the Sun wants to write and direct himself as a beefcake Jersey boy (as Levitt is in “Hatha Hater” territory, a little too pleasant for his own good) but Levitt and the film will surprise you.  Just when you think this will be one of those cookie cutter movies Julian Moore arrives to spice things up. Moore who plays Esther, a fellow community college classmate of Jon’s, starts to ask questions, bruising his bravado.   Jon and his audience end up questioning the content of relationships, what are we after exactly and what would happen if we let our expectations drift and just lived?

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At the end of the screening an audience member was not satisfied, dismissing the film and claiming he wasn’t sure if it was a drama or a comedy, which is the greatest compliment Levitt could ever receive. He could have made a directorial debut drenched in sophistication, but a little bit of froth mixed in with herbal tea never hurt anyone.

Don’s family, which is slightly charming yet comes off as a knock of Tony Manero’s clan, includes Tony Danza along with the talented Glenne Headly (Dick Tracy) and Brie Larson (21 Jump Street, The United States of Tara) three other perfect reasons to see this film, a must before the serious movie season begins.

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