“There are only a few things in life I really care about. My body, my pad, my ride, my family, my church, my boys, my girls and my porn“-Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jon Martello
This quote from the directorial feature film debut of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s (“The Dark Knight Rises,” “500 Days of Summer”) “Don Jon” pretty much says it all about the title character.
Levitt’s Jon Martello, in his spare time, likes to live it up at the club with his buddies, played by Rob Brown and Jeremy Luke, and scout beautiful women to take home and invite to bed. Though he lives up to the reputation he has established for himself as “The Don,” Jon finds no greater bliss than when he watches online pornography and pleases himself while watching it.
Jon’s life is pretty routine. He eats dinner with his family, played by Tony Danza (“Angels in the Outfield,”), Brie Larson (“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”) and Glenne Headly (“Mr. Holland’s Opus”), he goes to church on Sundays and confesses to the pastor, which is not really confessing more like it is bragging about his “conquests” and “private time,” and at night, he goes clubbing, then intercourse with a beautiful woman, then he watches porn and gets off.
One night, when Jon lays eyes on the exquisite Golden Globe nominee Scarlett Johansson (“Marvel’s ‘The Avengers,'” “Match Point”) as Barbara Sugarman, he is immediately aware that this woman is nothing like what he has had in the past and he may have to dig deep in order to win her favor.
Barbara is an old-fashioned kind of girl. She is waiting to find her own knight in shining armor to sweep her off her feet and dedicate everything he is for her and Jon goes to great lengths to become that knight in shining armor but there is a problem.
Jon hates the mushy and romanticized Hollywood love story-type movies that Barbara loses herself to and Barbara hates the fact that Jon watches porno and masturbates to it, despite being in a relationship with her. If Jon seriously wants to be in a stable relationship with Barbara a lot has to change with him, but the question is, does Jon actually want to change the life he is so comfortable in?
“Don Jon” marks a milestone for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s career for it is the first time Gordon-Levitt is directing a feature length motion picture. He has written and directed a multitude of short films, but he is making the leap to major projects and there is a lot to respect in that move in his career and in this film.
There is one big glaring problem with “Don Jon”: it tries to be funny.
Anyone who sees this movie will come away with the impression that the trailer has all of the movie’s funniest moments and the remainder of the feature is nothing more than a graphically mature, coming of age-type of feature where the main character has to learn a life-lesson and that is too cliche for the average moviegoer. The silver lining in this is that Gordon-Levitt shows a lot of promise in this endeavor; showcasing his ability to write and direct motion pictures on a very professional level.
The leading characters are played to top form by Gordon-Levitt and Johansson. They both look the part easily but they give the best performances possible and the supporting characters of Danza, Headly and Academy Award nominee Julianne Moore’s (“The End of the Affair,” “Boogie Nights”) performance as Esther doesn’t disappoint as well.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s first outing as a feature length director doesn’t knock the ball out of the park, but it is clear to see that there is a lot of potential in his ability as a writer and director for the audience to see.
“Don Jon” tries too hard to be what it wants to be, but it is worth seeing if anyone wants to get a glimpse of what Joseph Gordon-Levitt can do as a director, a screenwriter and as a consistent actor.