Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut comes in the form of “Don Jon,” a smart and stylized comedy about the consequences of the media on love and relationships. A movie that is equal parts vulgar and heartwarming, “Don Jon” is a clever take on modern day romance.
Gordon-Levitt stars as the titular character, a New Jersey playboy who prioritizes his specific lifestyle, especially his obsession with pornography. Even though he can get any girl he wants, none live up to the standards set by his love affair with porn. Then he meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), a curvaceous beauty who manages to wrangle Jon into a committed relationship. But Barbara also has unrealistic beliefs about love due to her obsession with romance films, and the two struggle to find balance.
The tone of the second half of the movie takes a dramatic turn when Jon meets Esther (Julianne Moore), an eccentric woman who tries to teach him to embrace the real people in front of him rather than his triple-X fantasies. The last act of the movie gets a little sleepy, but still makes for a meaningful ending.
The film’s strong suit is its writing. The witty yet believable dialogue and well-structured plot make for original storytelling. Moments like the depiction of a good night at the club or a satirical movie-within-a-movie romance featuring Anne Hathaway and Channing Tatum showcase “Don Jon’s” clever filmmaking.
The film takes dirty jokes and makes them lighthearted and effective beyond their shock factor. Its porn montages and Jon’s narration about sex mark its commentary on how the media can warp people’s real-life expectations. Entertaining and funny-because-its-true, “Don Jon” is a good watch with a group of friends. Couples should be wary, unless you want to evaluate your sex lives.
— Natalie Carney
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