The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
When I meet people, one of the first things they say to me is "you're from New Jersey? You don't have an accent!" This is untrue; I do have a Jersey accent, of which I am very proud. What I do not have is the movie version, which is an ovah da top Bwooklyn accent squooshed togedda with an even moah ovah da top Staten Eyelen accent. Granted, your standard issue Jersey accent sounds something like that hybrid, but not to the extremes movies and television take it. Outside of the Boston accent, no other accent gets more overplayed than New Jersey's. It's enough to make Bruce Springsteen cry.
Almost everyone in "Don Jon" tawks as if he or she were raised in the middle of the Verrazano Bridge by amateur stand-up comedians. The usually talented Los Angeles native Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Joisey accent is a horrific exaggeration. He plays up the regional sounds and cadences to the point of belief-shattering extremity. He is joined in overdone accent purgatory by New York City native Scarlett Johansson, who should know bettuh, and Glenne Headly, who should get a Razzie nomination for playing the biggest Italian mother stereotype in the history of cinema. At least Brooklyn's own Tony Danza gets the accent right, though I would have forgiven him anyway. Hearing the star of "Who's the Boss?" drop about 500 f-bombs is one of the film's few pleasures.
Back in the days of Sundance, when "Don Jon" had a longer title ("Don Jon's Addiction") and an NC-17 rating, the consensus was that Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut was a more fun version of "Shame." That film was about sex addiction, but "Don Jon" paves its road to hell with pornography. Now shorn of one-third of its original title and whatever spiciness that pushed it over the NC-17 edge, "Don Jon" hits theaters the week after yet another film about sex addicts, "Thank You For Sharing." By refusing to allow us to engage its protagonist, "Shame" kept him at an infuriating arm's length. "Don Jon" wants you to hug its sticky, chauvinistic hero, and is willing to use every single macho cliché in the book to ensure it.
Gordon-Levitt plays The Situation, I mean, Jon, a pumped up weightlifter guy whose sexual technique is so good that his buddies call him The Don. Flanked by his two cronies, who act like hungry puppies jumping around a huge bag of Purina Dog Chow, Jon makes the rounds of the nightclub every week. Spouting dialogue that is neither clever nor interesting, Jon and his crew describe and rate the numerous women they ogle. Since he directed the movie, Jon goes home with a bevy of babes, while his buddies stare glassy-eyed into the distance as he exits. They later use him as a human-sized version of Penthouse Forum Magazine, drooling over his stories rather than trying to get laid themselves.