Selling Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut, Don Jon, is going to be complicated. Not because the movie’s bad. It isn’t. But Gordon-Levitt casts himself as a lothario handicapped by his addiction to hardcore, graphic pornography … and that doesn’t necessarily speak to the theatergoers in the Midwest, so to speak. So it’s understandable that Relativity Media would go with this safe, bland, somewhat generic headshot-montage poster to start preparing Don Jon for the masses. Credit goes to EW.com for being able to share it first.
I mean, Relativity couldn’t necessarily put naked chicks on the first Don Jon poster. But maybe the studio could have suggested the character’s online obsessions through its poster imagery, because this very easily could be a movie for one of the cheesy, predictable rom-coms Scarlett Johansson’s adores. In Don Jon, JGL plays a club rat who trolls Jersey’s hottest bars in search of an ideal mate. He finally finds one in ScarJo, but is unwilling to ease up on his online compulsions just because he eventually ends up in a semi-serious relationship.
Moore’s presence on the poster is deceiving. She does play an important role in Jon’s emotional development. But I much rather would have liked to see Tony Danza’s head in a character square on the poster, as his lecherous, domineering father is a far more memorable part of Gordon-Levitt’s ensemble. Then again, I understand that Danza on a poster isn’t going to sell a ton of movie tickets. Word of mouth on Danza’s terrific performance, however, might help Don Jon earn award nominations and, possibly, trophies.
Relativity scooped up Don Jon back when it was called Don Jon’s Addiction, playing the Sundance and South By Southwest film festivals. It’s planning to drop the movie into theaters on Sept. 27, where a successful run through arthouse venues could help position the film for Golden Globes and Independent Spirit Awards competitions. Would Oscar ever wake up and recognize the accomplishments of JGL’s strong, confident directorial debut? Unlikely. The subject matter is too risqué for the Academy, despite the fact that Danza, Johansson and Gordon-Levitt give some of the most remarkable performances of their careers. Don Jon needs to be on your radar as the busy fall film season gets underway. Don’t let this poster fool you into believing that JGL has created something conventional with his film. He has learned more than a few storytelling tricks from the likes of Christopher Nolan, Rian Johnson and other top directors with whom he has collaborated over the years.
As you digest the poster, here’s the latest trailer for Don Jon. Look for updates on the film as it heads to theaters in the coming weeks.
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.