A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Don Jon is about a guy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who's addicted to porn, which means it has lots of montages from X-rated movies. No genitalia are shown, but you'll see plenty of naked breasts, graphic sex scenes (with genitals obscured), moaning, groaning, people in all sorts of positions, and implied masturbation. There's tons of swearing/crude language, too (including "f--k" and "s--t"), and one scene in which a character smokes weed. All of that said, mature viewers can still learn something from the movie, including that pornography can shape the way people/society views women and of sex -- and that it can get in the way of true intimacy.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) doesn't want for much. He makes lots of money as a bartender, he beds a different woman nearly every night, and he has loyal friends. He also watches porn every day, sometimes many times a day, pleasuring himself as he watches. And to him, this isn't a liability, but a virtue. After all, what more could a guy ask for? But it's not enough. No matter how hot Jon's encounters get, nothing compares to the bliss he gets from porn. And he wishes that weren't the case. Enter Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), a dime -- aka a "10" on Jon and his friends' scale -- he spots at the bar. He falls headlong in lust, and then in love, which pleases his mother (Glenne Headly), who wants grandkids, and his father (Tony Danza), who appreciates Barbara's looks. Still, Jon can't shake the porn habit, something Esther (Julianne Moore), an older woman who's his classmate at night school, makes him analyze. Is it an addiction? And if so, what does that mean?
Is it any good?
DON JON is a delight. Who'd expect a movie about a porn addict to be so uplifting? But it really is, gently introducing a different point of view about love, sex, and romance than the audience is initially led to believe. It's stealth self-help, in the best way. Gordon-Levitt, who reveals a crushing vulnerability in Jon at key moments on which the storyline pivots, makes him both likeable and understandable. Johansson is fierce in the best way, and although Brie Larson, who plays Jon's sister, doesn't have a lot of lines, when she does, they're left ringing in Jon's (and our) ears.
Perhaps the one wrinkle in the movie's polished storytelling is a certain relentlessness to the way that Jon's porn obsession is told. It mimics the porn to which Jon is addicted. Clips are shown over and over and over again, perhaps to drive home the fact that what he has really is an addiction, a compulsion. But after the fifth, sixth, seventh montage of porn-watching and self-pleasuring, enough already. We get it. He has a problem. Gordon-Levitt, who's also the film's director, displays such a creative, light touch elsewhere that this heavy-handedness is even more deeply felt. But he gets a pass this time. Don Jon is too good to be ignored.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Don Jon depicts sex and relationships. What connection do sex and intimacy have in the movie? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values on these topics.
What makes Jon's habits an addiction? How does it get in his way? How does it compare to other kinds of addiction?
Talk about pornography's appeal -- and reach. Does the film capture the casualness with which people view porn? What do you think of this stance?
- In theaters: September 27, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: December 31, 2013
- Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Julianne Moore, Scarlett Johansson, Tony Danza
- Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
- Studio: Relativity Media
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong graphic sexual material and dialogue throughout, nudity, language and some drug use
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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