Film Review: Don Jon

Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Expectations around sex and relationships are what is explored in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s bold first attempt at writing and directing. More specifically, Don Jon deals with society’s growing acceptance of hardcore porn, personified through Gordon-Levitt’s likeable lead character Jon.

Jon’s relationship with, or rather – addiction to, porn governs his journey. It’s established from the outset that the porn he consumes plays a significant part in his perception of the ‘ideal’, along with his well maintained body, car, pad, church, family and social life. Yet it emerges that his sexuality is so invested in the virtual world, that his actual real-life experiences are continually left wanting. Even with Barbara (Johansson), the apparent girl of his dreams, the sex doesn’t fulfil him the way he had hoped for.

There’s no doubt that Gordon-Levitt’s début will jar viewers into considering their own habits and modern methods of consumption, just as we see Jon undergo in the latter half to an unexpected and uplifting outcome.

Personal Score: 3/5

Film Review: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

Below is my review of Bad Grandpa, written for Rock’n’Reel Reviews.

Director: Jeff Tremaine

The arrival of another Dickhouse production was a welcome one I’m sure for thousands of Jackass fans. After all, with the movies seemingly wrapped up with Jackass 3D and 3.5 and the tragic passing of Ryan Dunn just over two years ago, where could the gang really go from here?

Well, Bad Grandpa is essentially an expansion of the Irving Zisman character from the Jackass movies. Usual ringleader Johnny Knoxville takes charge, fully made-up as the senior citizen and quite remarkably fools members of the American public into believing he is a dirty-minded and reckless 86-year-old.

Irving’s wife has just passed away and he now has the added responsibility of taking his 8-year-old grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) to live with his irresponsible father, due to the mother landing herself in jail… So, given these circumstances, expect a sequence of cringe-worthy and at times daringly outrageous public stunts and mishaps involving the public.

So far, so Jackass. Whilst certain antics are more controversial and wince-inducing than some of the tamer ones, the grandpa-grandson duo get plenty of huge laughs for their downright ridiculous behaviour throughout. Both Knoxville and Nicoll act well. Nicoll especially does himself proud as young Billy who, admirably, is just as fearless as he is convincing.

What’s refreshing is that unlike other reality-based, hidden camera features such as Borat or Bruno that blatantly attempt to make a fool out of the ‘real’ people involved, the creators of Bad Grandpa (like the other Jackass movies) never appear to have a malicious goal in their interaction with the American public.

The decision to include scenes with just the pair behaving in character was an interesting one but works well in warming the audience to Irving and Billy and their predicament. If you already dislike Jackass then this troublesome twosome and their crude humour isn’t going to win you over. But by embracing the silliness and inviting you into the perspectives of these two characters, Bad Grandpa is a harmless and surprisingly uplifting watch.

Personal Score: 2.5/5

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