In the first few moments of Don Jon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's directorial opus to porn, juiceheads and jerking off, we are frequently shown Jon's face as he logs into his laptop. We are bombarded by the flashing credits interspersed with adult starlets moaning and working for the camera. Jon, played by Gordon-Levitt, explains that he loves his porn. I mean, loves his porn. Every man indulges in a little bit of adult entertainment, but Jon takes it to entirely new level.
My excitement for Don Jon reached a fever pitch by the time that I saw it. I love everyone involved in the film, and I was super excited to see if Gordon-Levitt made a strong directorial debut. Not only does he direct; he also wrote and stars in his first feature.
Jon, a bartender with a traditional Italian family, prowls the clubs looking for tail. He playfully argues with his friends (Rob Brown and Jeremy Luke) over the hottest girls. Jon is sort of the epitome of a Jersey Shore sleazeball: muscley, tan, enough Dippity Do in his hair to cover the New Jersey turnpike. He prides himself in being a man who takes care of himself and being able to take home almost any girl he locks eyes with. Even though Jon gets tons of action, he always sneaks into the next room to watch porn while his latest conquest sleeps. Jon needs to, in his eyes, get off the best way, and the women on the screen satisfy him way more than the women in his bed.
When he sees Barbara Sugarman, he sets his sights on her, but she's not going to let him get her into bed as quick as he would like. She forces a courtship on him. Since Barbara is played by Scarlett Johansson, Jon will go the distance to get her into bed. Being one of the sexiest actresses working today has its advantages. Johansson's casting might be one of the best I've ever seen considering I know a million guys that would fly to the moon and back just for the idea of getting her into bed. Gordon-Levitt and Johansson have a chemistry that is playful and fun. I am starting to get reminded as to why I connected with Johansson when she first broke out. Her acting doesn't get the credit it deserves, and here she's got a bubblegum-snapping energy that I loved. Jon is the kind of guy who has a million moves, but Barbara always throws back.
As Jon's relationship with Barbara continues, their friends meet and they introduce each other to each other's families. Jon's parents are played by Tony Danza and Glenne Headley. Danza walks around in a tanktop for 90% of his scenes, and, I must say, the man has very veiny arms. You'll see it! Headley is adorable as Jon's mother. Brie Larson (Short Term 12) made me laugh out loud every time she was on screen. Barbara convinces him to take a night class as well in order for him to get a better paying job.
While at his class, Jon meets Esther who is played by Julianne Moore. She initially makes him nervous and uncomfortable with how much she talks to him, because he obviously just wants to take this class and be done with it. Moore is luminous in this movie. Now, I am a bit biased as you might know, but all obsession aside she is great. Gordon-Levitt shoots her with a digital camera and not with the same glossy one he shoots with Johansson. Moore wears no makeup, and you can see every wrinkle on her face. She's just a beauty, and her scenes with Gordon-Levitt are both charming and sexy.
At the beginning of Don Jon, I kept thinking the same thing: wow, men are stupid. The film explores the male perception of sex versus pornography as well as the role of sex in a relationship. Also, the roles of men and women in a relationship. There is a scene between Jon and Barbara in a hardware store when she is disgusted by the idea of Jon performing housework. She insists that men shouldn't do certain things, and later they argue about Jon's porn viewing. I've heard about arguments like this from friends, and I think Don Jon is very honest.
Gordon-Levitt's first feature as a director is solid in my eyes. There is a repetition in some of the themes that I got a bit tired of (Jon going to church and confessing how many times he masturbated to porn), but that all connects with how routine Jon's life is. Not only is he good behind the camera, but he looks damn good throughout the whole film. If you think he is cute, this is flick for you. He is constantly flexing, thrusting and whacking it in this. Narcissistic? I don't know. Maybe. But I sure as hell don't care.
By the way, can we bring back the adult comedy please? Don Jon is a funny, smart film about relationships. Can we have more of these, please?