If there was any doubt that Joseph Gordon-Levitt wasn’t already a staple in Hollywood, the doubt ends now. The 32-year-old actor, having already been part of numerous blockbusters, has promoted himself to the world of directing and screen writing. His first project is a movie that centers on a character addicted to porn.
“Don Jon” is a story about Jon Martello, played by Levitt, a man who is known for his ability to play the ladies and essentially have everything his way. The twist is that nothing gets Jon more amped up than porn, not even a fling with a “dime.” However, his life of partying and bed hopping comes to halt when he catches sight of “a perfect 10” by the name of Barbara Sugarman, played by Scarlett Johansson.
Barbara plays the kryptonite to Jon, and from her introduction, the sexiness and vivaciousness of “Don Jon” kicks up to another level. The pure sensuous charisma that pours off the screen when Johansson and Levitt interact is hard to ignore, even down to their perfectly tuned New Jersey accents. Simply put, this is not a movie one would want to watch with their parents.
Jon has his list of priorities in life, and while porn is among them, so is family. The few scenes where Jon interacts with his parents are simply sensational, especially his father who is played by Tony Danza. The Brooklyn-born native thrives in the role. He rocks a beater for essentially the entire time he is on screen, but his interactions with his son are hilarious and his relationship with his wife is similar to that of a classic TV sitcom.
The parents are excited to see their son with a woman, one he connects with romantically; but they don’t know the dark side to the relationship. Barbara and Jon have problems, all stemming from a time when the loud, gum-chewing drama queen walked in on her porn-addicted boyfriend using his laptop for, shall we say, non e-mail needs. The couple tries to work through the uncomfortable situation, but eventually as time passes Jon begins to change, and he gets a push from an unlikely source.
As director, screenwriter and actor, Levitt did a fantastic job of hiding the magnitude to which Julianne Moore would be a part of the film. Moore plays the part of Esther, a women in Jon’s night class who has found herself all alone in the world. Naturally the two characters connect, on more than just a personal level, and the complexity that Moore brings to her character makes one wish she had more screen time.
“Don Jon” suffers from an acceptable but too fast of an ending, but there is no denying viewing pleasure. Levitt doesn’t only create interesting characters, he molds film that cuts well and never seems too overdone on one aspect of itself. The cast overall is fantastic, the writing is crisp and edgy, and the direction is superb for a first time director.
Stanko Rating: B