News

REVIEW: Joseph Gordon-Levitt scores with ‘Don Jon’

REVIEW: Joseph Gordon-Levitt scores with ‘Don Jon’

Genre: Comedy, Drama | Run Time: 90 min | Rated: R
Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt | Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson

By: George Wolf

Look at little Tommy Solomon! Joseph Gordon-Levitt has proven himself a versatile actor in the years since his TV career in the guise of a pre-pubescent Earthling. With his newest effort, Don Jon, he exhibits surprising confidence and aptitude as both a screenwriter and a director.

The film follows Jon (Gordon-Levitt), a Jersey player who cares deeply about only a handful of things: his bod, his pad, his ride, his family, his church, his boys, his girls, his porn.

Guess which one of those gets him into trouble.

Maybe the best way to appreciate what Don Jon is, is to quickly cover what it is not. Don Jon is not a traditional romantic comedy. It is not a sexy romp, or a perfect flick for hangin’ with your bros.

No. It’s a sexually frank, cleverly written, confidently directed independent comedy/drama about our culture of objectification. It’s an alert comment on a society that fears intimacy, collects trophies, and looks to get more than it gives; a culture that raises girls to want to be princesses, and guys to collect sexual conquests. A culture where a fast food restaurant honestly advertises its newest sandwich by having an oiled up, bikini clad super model enjoy the tasty burger.

The effort certainly carries its flaws, but JGL gets credit for upending expectations, and for brilliantly paralleling romantic comedies and porn – because, let’s be honest, they are equally damaging to our concept of relationship.

Writing and direction are nothing without a cast, and Gordon-Levitt proves just as savvy in that department. Tony F. Danza, ladies and gentlemen! Danza has fun as Jon’s role model father, while this season’s go-to girl Brie Larson – with barely a word – scores as his observant sister.

Gordon-Levitt’s own perfectly crafted swagger finds its match in a gum-chewing Scarlett Johansson, whose sultry manipulator is spot-on.

The fledgling auteur stumbles by Act 3 – quite a letdown after such a well articulated premise. The underdeveloped resolution would hinder the effort more were it not for the presence of Julianne Moore as the eccentric and wise Esther. The role may be a bit clichéd, but Moore is incapable of anything less than excellence.

It won’t be long before we’re saying the same of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Until the end, he proves himself an insightful observer of his times, a cagey storyteller, and an artist with limitless potential.

Verdict-4-0-Stars

Read more reviews by George Wolf.

Latest Headlines

in Sports

26.2 miles, 28,000 bananas: Boston Marathon by the numbers

11-overlay7

More than 30,000 runners and nearly $1 million in prize money. Here's the iconic race by the numbers.

in Viral Videos

WATCH: A proposal from the dog’s POV

15-overlay7

Who needs a selfie stick when you've got man's best friend?

in Music

Oops! Kirk Hammett loses cell phone with Metallica album ideas

kirkhammett

The lead guitarist is devastated after losing a phone containing more than 200 album ideas.

in Sports, Weird

Jordan or LeBron? Let’s duke it out

lebronjames

Police say an argument over whether Michael Jordan or LeBron James is a better basketball player ended in a man's arrest on assault charges.

in Lifestyle, Viral Videos

300 strangers attend girl’s birthday party after classmates say no

16-overlay6

Every kid in Mackenzie Moretter's class turned down an invite to her 10th birthday party. What happened next is truly amazing.