Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of Hollywood’s brightest young actors. With “Don Jon” he shows off some brash and promising filmmaking abilities as well.
An explicit romantic-comedy about a porn-obsessed Jersey boy may seem like an odd choice for a writing/directing debut, but Gordon-Levitt deftly manages to put together a fresh and intelligent film.
Gordon-Levitt also stars in the movie as Jon Martello, a heavily gelled old school lothario who amazes his friends by bringing home a different beautiful woman every weekend.
Jon’s only real pleasure, however, comes from his total obsession with Internet porn, conveniently confessed away during his regular Sunday church visits with his family.
Jon’s highly structured life, however, is shaken up when he meets his perfect 10, Barbara Sugarman, a Jersey princess who won’t easily fall for his charms.
Played with gum-snapping gusto by Scarlett Johansson, Barbara has her own theatrically tinted image of what a perfect mate should be — she’s obsessed with soapy Hollywood romances — and a 10-time-a-day porn habit doesn’t fit the picture. She demands that Jon change and commit, which might not be easy.
Gordon-Levitt plays Jon with disarming swagger, and there are some considerable sparks with Johannsson. The subject matter is decidedly off-color and frank, yet there’s still some surprising sweetness, too.
Julianne Moore makes a late appearance in the film and provides a refreshing bit of balance as a slightly unhinged but perceptive older woman who slips into Jon’s life.
Tony Danza also deserves mention for a nicely played supporting part as Jon’s profane, football-loving father, paired with Glenne Headly as Jon’s mother.
“Don Jon” is raunchy, but disarmingly honest. It’s not roll-on-the-floor funny, but maintains an oddball charm throughout.
Unless you’re prepared for an uncomfortable conversation about pornography and masturbation, don’t bring your mother to “Don Jon.” It is worth seeing, though — at the very least downloaded to your laptop, and watched alone in a darkened room.
Rental Recommendation: For a Joseph Gordon-Levitt romantic comedy you can watch in mixed company, try “(500) Days of Summer.” Grade: A.
Email Steve Ouellette: firstname.lastname@example.org
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore
Rated: R (nudity, strong language, adult themes)
Running time: 90 minutes