Directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
In terms of disposable, enjoyable entertainment, you could do much worse than this. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as an online porn addict/conflicted Roman Catholic from Joisey who gives up digits-hunting in nightclubs for a “10” in the shape of Scarlett Johanssen. However, he soon discovers the real downside to monogamy isn’t having sex with one person—it’s putting up with them when they don’t leave in the morning. With her relationship expectations twisted by syrupy Hollywood romcoms, Barbara (ScarJo) is disgusted by pornography and insists that Jon (JoGoLev) only “not lie” to her, despite actually wanting his soul. Jon, similarly warped (just by years of silicone tits and randy babysitters), is disappointed to discover his ideal woman isn’t a perfect BJ-giving machine, and, after swearing that he’s the one man on earth who doesn’t look at pornography, he covertly gets his smut fix on his phone. (You can guess how long this lasts.)
the accents are wonky, some of the subtext gets spelled-out in the dialogue, and the social and media critique is rail-thin, there’s still plenty of truth and humor to be found in the movie’s portrayal of hookup culture. Jon, Barbara, and their circle of Skrillex-loving friends may be one-dimensional Jersey Shore extras, but they aren’t presented as inferior, morally bankrupt idiots either. Blessedly, the film goes very light on the requisite third-act maturation-redemption, not overstating the importance of an older woman (Julianne Moore) who teaches him that what’s sexy rarely has anything to do with actual sexuality.
As a director, Gordon-Levitt is infatuated with breaking the fourth wall for comedic effect with extreme close-ups, overtly stagey lighting, and sub-Pino Donaggio musical cues. (The film-within-the-film, a dopey rom-com starring Channing Tatum and Anne Hathaway, is undoubtedly Don Jon‘s crowning achievement.) His quieter naturalistic moments, such as a verité sequence in Washington Square Park during magic hour, are no more visually remarkable than something you’d see in a credit card commercial, but they still land better than the work of most other stars-turned-writer/directors. Unlike Ben Affleck directing himself in Argo, he doesn’t include a shot of his abs.
Opens September 27