Once again, I am going against the flow with this movie, just as I did with Gravity.  (Although Neil Degrasse Tyson seems to be in some agreement with me.)  Now you might be able to argue coherently against me when it comes to the movie, Gravity.  But when it comes to Don Jon, a movie about an Italian guy in Northern Jersey…

Fuck you.  I know from where I speak.

Don Jon is by the amazingly talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is still amazingly talented despite this movie.  Direction is slick and face paced.  It’s not an unentertaining movie.  It’s kind of a modern take on Don Juan, meets the Jersey Shore.

But therein lies the problem.  Levitt seems to use much of what someone watching the Jersey Shore would conclude about Northern Jersey folk.  This, along with some pretty blatant stereotypes, drives Don Jon.  Unfortunately, they already made this movie and it’s fantastic.  They called it, Saturday Night Fever.  It is, essentially, the same story.  A self-centered Italian guy in NJ/NYC area going to clubs with his buddies, finding emptiness despite doing all the things he thinks are the “right” things and then finding true love outside of that world.

But where Saturday Night Fever nails all the details, Don Jon swings and misses every one of them.  Tony Danza, as the dad, is such an Italian stereotype, he could work as the image on a pizza box.  And his wife, played by Glenne Headly, is horribly miscast as some California casting director’s vision of an Italian mom.

But Scarlett Johansson is actually from New York and her dazzling good looks and acting help.  Unfortunately, the script just doesn’t give her much to do outside of reacting how you’d imagine a stereotypical, Jersey hot chick would.  Still, Johansson’s acting and a little detail in the script could easily make her pass for half-Italian.  Instead, we’re told that her name is Barbara Sugarman.  Seriously?

If Levitt had done more research, he’d realize the pedigree of your girlfriend in Jersey is important.  Although there’s some discussion at the dinner table about this, the characters ultimately don’t pin her down.  Not gonna happen.  Also, family is important and most people that live in these regions think regionally.  They also know each other.  Again, there’s no connection and there easily could have been.

Before I get into some spoilers, I rate this movie a 2 out of 10 keggers.  A rental a best, bro.


Another moment comes way late in the movie, where Levitt reveals his occupation: bartender.  Now the entire movie is supposed to be how Jon macks on girls his whole life, but we’re not going to see him use that bartender gig to do that?  That’s insane.  Bartenders hook up all the time.  Later, when Julianne Moore becomes his mentor/older woman that shows him how to love, it’s implied that bartender is some lowly job that will get you nowhere.

Well, in Saturday Night Fever, the character worked mixing paint in a hardware store.  THAT’S a job that pretty much goes nowhere.  At best, you might end up running the store.  But a bartender?  You could end up running a bar or several.  And bars in the NJ/NYC area can make big money, especially if your body-obsessed work out guy like Don Jon.

So when Scarlett Johansson (in a quick and very clunky scene) insists Jon go back to college, you’re like, “Why?”  And the class Jon takes is never explained, nor is his potential arc to get a “better” job.  All these details are important and without them, make the entire movie seem unfinished.  John Travolta, in SNF, on the other hand is a great dancer, whose potential is explored in the movie.  We’re not even sure Don Jon HAS potential.

And Scarlett’s character seems to have tons of amazing clothes AND a maid.  But then in another scene, it’s implied she works in the service industry too.  How can she afford a maid?  In another scene, she chastises Jon for being so eager to clean and she doesn’t clean herself.  No, sorry.  In New Jersey?  Okay, maybe some rich princess might make that noise, but most women take pride in being able to take care of things like that.

On more thing that didn’t ring true: Don Jon’s sister spends the movie on her iPhone.  It’s kind of a funny character.  But Tony Danza’s dad character is, supposedly, a typical yelling, Italian Dad.  Never once does he yell at his daughter to put down the phone.  Sorry, no Italian dad would tolerate that disrespect, especially at the Sunday dinner table.

Don Jon’s crew only consists of two guys.  Anyone that self-centered and egoistical knows everyone.  He has two.  Plus he’s a bartender.  These guys pride themselves in knowing everyone.

I could go on and on picking out little things that annoyed me and didn’t ring true, but the bottom line is that Don Jon’s script needed more research.  I really wanted to like this movie, but sorry Joseph Gordon-Levitt who was born in Sherman Oaks, CA.  Maybe he’d understand if someone from Jersey made a movie about California guys and all they do is surf, say “Dude” and smoke pot all day.

Skip this bros.  Go rent Saturday Night Fever.