Joseph Gordon-Levitt seems like he’s been on one massive role ever since “(500) Days of Summer.” Winning audiences over with his exceptional performances in some of his earlier work like “Manic, “Mysterious Skin,” and “Brick,” Joseph Gordon-Levitt has starred or co-starred in the likes of “Looper,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “50/50,” and “Inception” just in the past three years. It almost makes you forget about “Premium Rush” in the long run. Naturally, after starting “an open collaborative production company” known as hitRECord, it was only a matter of time before Joseph Gordon-Levitt took the next step and experimented with writing and directing a film rather than just acting in one. That project is “Don Jon” and while it is a bit unsteady at times, it’s a very solid effort for a first time director.
Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) really only cares about a few things; working out, keeping his apartment clean, his car, his family, his religion, his friends, taking women to bed, and porn. Jon is so addicted to porn that he claims it’s better than the real thing. He loses himself in porn whereas sex with a real woman is never as gratifying. That is until he meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson); the most beautiful woman Jon has ever set his eyes on and the woman he finally falls in love with. But as Jon begins to shift his life in the direction Barbara wants it to go, his unreal expectations for a relationship begin to clash with Barbara’s unreasonable intentions for the man in her life.
The R-rated comedy is borderline annoying early on. You watch Jon and his two friends Bobby (Rob Brown) and Danny (Jeremy Luke) go out every night and rating women at clubs. After arguing over where each woman fits in their 1-10 scale, Jon winds up taking one home, sleeping with them, and then watching porn afterward to really satisfy himself. Jon has this opening monologue about why he enjoys porn and it’s almost profound in how genuine it feels.
The humor doesn’t really kick in until Jon starts going through the shortcomings of both sex and porn. Jon’s confessionals at his church are also quite amusing as they almost always escalate in the number of sins he’s performed in a given week as he awaits the severity of his atonement. The scene outside Barbara’s apartment is both sexy and humorous and what John has to deal with thanks to waiting so long to finally sleep with Barbara is something every guy can relate to.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has assembled this extremely talented cast that you likely won’t remember after the film is over. Scarlett Johansson plays the beautiful yet unattainable woman, Tony Danza is the horny father who loves football, Glenne Headly is the mother desperate for her son to start a family, and Brie Larson is the sister who doesn’t speak unless she really has something meaningful to say. The only one from the cast you might remember is Tony Danza thanks to the chemistry Danza and Gordon-Levitt share on screen. Their argument about TiVo is absurdly entertaining and Danza’s complete change in demeanor after seeing Barbara for the first time is fantastic.
The misshapen puzzle piece comes in the form of Julianne Moore. While her character is an important part of the story, you find yourself with a lot of questions regarding a lot about what’s revealed about her character and whether or not the information drives the film forward or slams it into reverse. Moore’s performance is quite good and you see why the character goes in the direction it does, but Moore’s character arc feels rushed overall especially when it comes to the big climax.
“Don Jon” is obnoxiously funny, effortlessly identifiable, unusually tender, and obscenely amusing. Even though it may seem like riding on a smooth stretch of pavement for much of the film before thrusting the audience onto a bumpy, unpaved road in the last half hour, “Don Jon” is still an enjoyable R-rated comedy that is sure to captivate both sexes.
“Don Jon” will be released in theaters across the country starting today, September 27.