Don Jon

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Don Jon
Against a grey background, three squares with the faces of a smiling young man, and red-haired woman, and shown horizontally the face of a blonde woman.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Produced by
Written by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Music by Nathan Johnson
Cinematography Thomas Kloss
Edited by Lauren Zuckerman
Distributed by Relativity Media[1]
Release dates
  • January 18, 2013 (2013-01-18) (Sundance)
  • September 27, 2013 (2013-09-27) (United States)
Running time 90 minutes[2]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $6 million[3]
Box office $30.5 million[3]

Don Jon is a 2013 American romantic comedy-drama film[4] written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Produced by Ram Bergman and Nicolas Chartier, the film stars Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, and Julianne Moore, with Rob Brown, Glenne Headly, Brie Larson, and Tony Danza in supporting roles. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2013,[5] and had its wide release in the United States on September 27, 2013.[3]


Jon Martello is a modern day Don Juan, with a short list of things he cares about: "my body, my pad, my ride, my family, my church, my boys, my girls, my porn". Though he has a very active sex life, he is more sexually satisfied by viewing pornography and masturbating, which enables him to "lose himself".

On a night out with his two best friends, Bobby and Danny, Jon sees Barbara Sugarman, and although she finds him interesting he fails to pick her up for a one-night stand. He tracks her down on Facebook, and invites her to lunch. The attraction is mutual, but Barbara insists on a traditional long-term courtship, which proceeds for over a month without sex. She encourages him to take night classes to get an office job outside the service industry, and Jon indulges her love for romance movies, which he usually dismisses as unrealistic fantasy. They meet each other's families and Jon's parents immediately love her.

Finally, the two have sex, but Jon is still dissatisfied. He admits the sex was decent and her body was perfect, but still felt something was missing. While Barbara sleeps Jon still gets up to watch pornography. Barbara catches him and is shocked that he would do such a thing. Jon denies that he watches pornography and claims it was merely a sick joke emailed to him by a friend.

Their relationship resumes, with Jon continuing to watch pornography regularly, but doing so primarily outside his apartment, where Barbara is often around. He is caught watching a pornographic video on his cell phone before a class by Esther, a middle-aged woman who attempts to apologize for an earlier awkward incident in which Jon encountered her weeping by herself at the college. Jon politely brushes her off. Barbara continues to assert control over him, insisting that cleaning his own apartment (a task Jon finds personally satisfying) is not manly and is not something she is comfortable with him doing. One night, she checks the browser history on his computer and confronts him with proof that he has been continuing to compulsively view pornography, and ends their relationship.

Jon tries to return to his old lifestyle, but it's not the same. Esther continues to reach out to Jon, trying to offer him the benefit of her experience. She reveals to Jon that the reason why he doesn't seem to have the same fun he has watching pornography while having sex, is because pornography is a one-sided affair, and if he wants to have sex that's better than pornography, he has to be willing to lose himself to another person, and she has to be willing to lose herself to him, calling it "a two-way street." She lends him an erotic video that she believes has a more realistic depiction of sexual relations. He responds by initiating a sexual encounter in her parked car. She persuades him to try masturbating without pornography, but he is unable to. She invites him to her home where she reveals that her husband and son had died in a car crash 14 months before. She counsels him further about the need for sex to be a mutual experience and, with her, Jon finally has an emotional sexual connection that doesn't leave him restless to watch pornography.

Jon's weekly confessional tallying his one-night stands and pornography sessions is replaced by one in which he proudly reports abstinence from pornography and just the one instance of fornication, which he describes as being more like making love. He tells his parents about the break-up with Barbara, and they are devastated. His sister Monica breaks her silence, saying that Barbara never cared about Jon, and was using him to live out her romance movie fantasy.

Jon asks to meet with Barbara and apologizes for lying to her about the pornography. Barbara says she asked one thing of him, and he failed. Jon replies she asked many things of him, and just couldn't keep up with her expectations. She says goodbye, and tells him to never contact her again.

Jon takes Esther as his girlfriend, and even though neither has any interest in getting married anytime soon, and denies he is in love, but believes he really understands her and they can get emotionally lost in each other.



Development for Don Jon began in 2008, when Gordon-Levitt wrote early notes about the film. Rian Johnson gave feedback during the writing process, and reviewed several cuts of the film. Christopher Nolan cautioned against both directing and starring in the film due to the extra challenges it would bring.[6]

Gordon-Levitt has credited his experience directing short films for HitRecord for teaching him what he needed to know to make Don Jon, and has said that he hopes to make films in a more collaborative way in the future.[7]

Principal photography for Don Jon began in May 2012.


In the United States, the film was originally certified NC-17, due to the graphic footage of the porn that Jon watches in the movie. Gordon-Levitt decided to cut some of the scenes out to obtain it an "R" rating, because he felt the original rating would give people the wrong idea—that the movie was completely about porn.[8]


Critical response[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an 81% approval rating, based on reviews from 179 critics, with a rating average of 6.8 out of 10. The site's consensus states: "Don Jon proves to be an amiable directing debut for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and a vivacious showcase for his co-star, Scarlett Johansson".[9] Metacritic gives a score of 66 out of 100 based on reviews from 41 critics, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.[10] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore on the opening weekend, gave Don Jon a C+ grade.[11][12]

Don Jon received very positive reviews at the Sundance Film Festival. Entertainment Weekly managing editor Jess Cagle called the film "one of the best movies I saw at the fest" and wrote, "Funny, touching, smart, and supremely confident, Don Jon is also Gordon-Levitt's feature directorial debut, and it establishes him as one of Hollywood's most exciting new directors."[13] William Goss of praises Levitt for his "assured style" as both director and screenwriter.[14] Edward Douglas of gave high praise to the screenplay.[15] Consensus of the film when it was played at the Sundance Film Festival, as noted by Odie Henderson, was that Don Jon was a "more fun version" of the 2011 film Shame.[16]

Julianne Moore received praise for her performance.[17][18] Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice praised the film, writing: "There's no dancing in Gordon-Levitt's writing-directing debut, Don Jon, although the movie is so heavily reminiscent—in the good way—of Saturday Night Fever that an arm-swinging paint-can reverie wouldn't be out of place."[19]

Box office[edit]

Don Jon grossed US$24,477,704 in North America and US$5,973,052 internationally, for a total worldwide gross of US$30,450,756.[3]


Joseph Gordon-Levitt was nominated for Best First Screenplay at the Independent Spirit Awards, but lost to Bob Nelson of Nebraska.[20]


  1. ^ Fleming, Jr., Mike (January 21, 2013). "Sundance Deal Precedent: Relativity Media Pact For Joseph Gordon-Levitt-Helmed Comedy ‘Don Jon: $4 Mill Upfront, $25 Million P&A For Summer Release". Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  2. ^ "DON JON (18)". British Board of Film Classification. July 26, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d
  4. ^ Macnab, Geoffrey (November 14, 2013). "Film review: Don Jon - a romantic comedy in which the male lead is obsessed with porn". The Independent. Retrieved April 30, 2014. 
  5. ^ Miller, Daniel (December 3, 2012). "Sundance 2013: Festival Unveils 2 Star-Studded Noncompetition Categories". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  6. ^ Rosen, Christopher (March 13, 2013). "Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 'Don Jon' Star, On The Advice He Didn't Take From Christopher Nolan". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 18, 2013. 
  7. ^ Gordon-Levitt, Joseph. "hitRECordJoe, EXCITING NEWS! :oD I am super stoked to announce...". Tumblr. Yahoo!. Retrieved August 18, 2013. 
  8. ^ Kaufman, Amy (April 22, 2013). "Joseph Gordon-Levitt: I cut some graphic porn from 'Don Jon'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 30, 2014. "The Sundance cut was us pushing it past where it really ought to be, and I think it was sort of distracting for audiences. People came away feeling like, ‘Oh, this is a movie about porn,’ and I was like, ‘No, it’s not a movie about that at all.’ I think because those images were so strong, they were leaving a heavier impression than I wanted them to." 
  9. ^ "Don Jon". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster/Warner Bros. Retrieved July 20, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Don Jon". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  11. ^ Finke, Nikki (September 29, 2013). "‘Cloudy With Meatballs 2′ Beefs Up For $35M And Easy #1, ‘Rush’ Slows To Small $10.6M, ‘Baggage Claim’ Gets Lost With $9.2M, And ‘Don Jon’ Can’t Seduce Past $8.8M Weekend". Retrieved April 30, 2014. 
  12. ^ Susman, Gary (September 30, 2013). "Box Office: How Did 'Baggage Claim' Beat 'Don Jon'?". Moviefone. Retrieved April 30, 2014. 
  13. ^ Cagle, Jess (February 8, 2013). "Editor's Note: Nice Work". Entertainment Weekly. New York: Time Inc. p. 4. Retrieved August 10, 2013. 
  14. ^ William Goss (January 24, 2013). "Sundance Review: ‘Don Jon’s Addiction’". 
  15. ^ Edward Douglas (March 2013). "SXSW Review: Don Jon". 
  16. ^ Henderson, Odie (September 27, 2013). "Don Jon Movie Review & Film Summary (2013)". Retrieved April 30, 2014. 
  17. ^ Hoffman, Jordan (January 21, 2013). "'Don Jon's Addiction' Review". ScreenCrush. Retrieved August 18, 2013. 
  18. ^ Chase Whale (January 19, 2013). "Sundance 2013 Review: DON JON'S ADDICTION Bulks Up the Body and Career of Joseph Gordon-Levitt". "Moore is a marvelous actress and this role is just another reason to love her." 
  19. ^ "Joseph Gordon-Levitt Triumphs Over Online Porn in Don Jon". The Village Voice, September 25, 2013. Retrieved on September 27, 2013.
  20. ^ Atkinson, Katie (March 1, 2014). "Independent Spirit Awards 2014: The winners list". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 20, 2014. 

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