Don Jon (2013) Directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, & Julianne Moore. IMDB says: “A New Jersey guy dedicated to his family, friends, and church, develops unrealistic expectations from watching porn and works to find happiness and intimacy with his potential true love.”
Jon (nicknamed the Don for his success in sexual pursuits) has a little problem. He can’t really get off the same from sex as he can from masturbation. But it’s not just masturbation that really does it for him—it’s the porn. See, sex for him is okay and all, but he doesn’t see what the big deal is compared to porn. For him, it’s better than the real thing and he has a relentless compulsion to watch it. His habit is challenged when he thinks he’s found a true dime, Barbara (Johannsson), who believes that there’s no need to DIY if you’re in a relationship so she makes him promise to stop. When he cannot really get the nerve to quit cold turkey he starts to question exactly how addicted he is.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives one of his most fun performances as this macho jersey porn addict, and his direction and writing for his debut production is a strong start. The real showcase is the fast paced editing that splices porn in as he narrates. This film is damn funny. It never digs too deep into the realities of his addiction, but it gets just emotional enough to strike a chord. He finds the humor in dating, his slightly dysfunctional parents (with a scene stealing performance by Tony Danza of all people), his daily routine (think Patrick Bateman, Pauly D style), and his religious side (featuring hilarious confessions and a whole lot of Hail Mary’s). Johannsson does a great job embodying this high maintenance Jersey girl with her own hang ups while there’s also a fantastic turn by Julianne Moore who plays a college classmate of Jon who finds out about his obsession.
There’s really not much to complain about Don Jon. Maybe the Jersey impressions could be a little stereotypical at times, but not enough to hate on it. Maybe you want Jon to go into some sort of Shame-like depression, but that’s not the kind of movie this is. This is one of the funniest movies this year, and features one of the most original concepts I’ve seen in awhile. It’s completely anchored by JGL who never disappoints so when things get a little ridiculous or heavy at times you buy everything Jon goes through. My only caveat is that this earns its hard R. There is porn aplenty throughout this thing, but unless you’re a prude it never actually seems gratuitous. Don Jon just hits all the right marks and is probably going to be amongst my favorite films of 2013.