There are many things a man loves, but nothing is more sacred than his pornography. Such is the premise of Don Jon, the directorial debut of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (which he also wrote, produced, and stars in). Jon is the sterotypical Jersey boy: he spends hours in the gym honing his body into a perfect physical specimen, he parties all weekend with his boys before going to church on Sunday, and he takes a different girl home almost every weekend.
Oh, and he’s addicted to internet porn.
Like most addicts, Jon finds a number of ways to justify his habit, and it never occurs to him that something might be wrong, but his instant attraction to the sassy, sexy Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) forces him to make some changes to his lifestyle. Soon, he’s taking night classes, bringing Barbara home for family dinners, and shopping for curtains – but the lure of a laptop filled with girls that will say (and do) anything imaginable is never far away.
As Jon, Gordon-Levitt is a delightfully charismatic scumbag, the kind of character that we should hate but can’t help rooting for. Johansson also plays against type here, and provides some of the film’s more amusing moments, but the two biggest surprises are Tony Danza as Jon’s father, and Julianna Moore as a flighty classmate, full of wisdom and whimsy. I would gladly have sacrificed some of ScarJo’s scenes for more of these two, but she’s pretty crucial to Jon’s character arc.
Don Jon is a supremely confident directorial debut – hilariously vulgar, outrageously filthy, and unexpectedly filled to the brim with heart. If this is what we can expect when Gordon-Levitt steps behind the lens, then sign me up for more.