DON JON (director/writer: Joseph Gordon-Levitt; cinematographer: Thomas Kloss; editor: Lauren Zuckerman; music: Nathan Johnson; cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Jon Martello), Scarlett Johansson (Barbara Sugarman), Brie Larson (Monica Martello), Julianne Moore (Esther), Glenne Headly (Angela), Tony Danza (Jon Sr.), Jeremy Luke (Danny), Rob Brown (Bobby), Italia Ricci (Gina), Lindsey Broad (Lauren), Amanda Prez (Lisa), Channing Tatum (cameo), Anne Hathaway (cameo); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Ram Bergman; Relativity Media; 2013)
“Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson give smashing performances.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Actor Joseph Gordon-Levittmakes his feature directorial debut with this assured directed racy comedy/drama that he stars in as a single Jersey bartender, Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), addicted to porn and because of his amorous way with fast women he’s dubbed by his envious fawning friends (Jeremy Luke & Rob Brown) as “The Mighty Don.” The modern-day Don Juan obsesses over Internet porn and routinely tries to score a hot chick in his nightly visits with pals to his favorite pick-up bar. The self-absorbed playboy finds porn better than real sex, as he never can find intimacy with the various girls he scores on one-night stands. The greasy-haired work-out wonder enjoys only a few things in life other than sex and porn, such as cleaning his bachelor pad, revving up his flashy car, going to church with his crude Italian-American parents (Tony Danza & Glenne Headly) and his almost completely ignored sister (Brie Larson) and afterwards confessing every Sunday about masturbating to porn and having sex out of wedlock.
One night at his hangout club he’s seduced by sexy dream girl Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson), who won’t give him sex before she gets her hooks into him and runs by him her agenda to get him to do what she wants. After meeting Jon’s family from hell and going on movie dates to simplistic but unrealistic feel-good soap opera romance pictures for a month (in one pic Channing Tatum & Anne Hathaway are onscreen as lovers in a Hollywood happy ending romantic fantasy flick), she finally has sex with him. But when Barbara catches her man watching porn, she warns him never to do that again or it’s adios. Jon even attends a night school class upon his fantasy girl’s insistence so that he strives to get ahead. There he meets the daffy older recent widow Esther (Julianne Moore), who becomes his sex mentor when the traditional-minded Barbara dumps him after she catches him still watching porn.
Old-fashioned values intermingled with the new are flashed by the eccentric Esther, as the stud learns from his confidante that he will enjoy sex better if can also satisfy his sexual partner while humping away. Also the affable undeveloped mental midget now learns that his crude shouting dad’s brand of macho doesn’t sit well with the more sophisticated ladies, and if he wants to evolve he will have to become more concerned about his sex partner. By the pic’s third act, our boy has a rude half-awakening and tussles about to become slightly more sensitive in his relationships.
The cartoonish but affectionate take on the stereotyped Italian-American working-class characters, who live in the city but just as easily could have resided at the Jersey Shore, has its funny moments, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson give smashing performances (the pic’s greatest asset). But even as I was entertained by the slick pic’s relentless in your face take on pop culture sexual attitudes, never backing off from its POV that sex is everywhere in our culture, I still felt underwhelmed by ultimately such sentimental doings and how its initial edge became increasingly dulled the more it tried to say something significant about relationships.
REVIEWED ON 9/27/2013 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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