Friday, April 12, 2024

Early Look: Joseph Gordon Levitt Addicted to Porn in “Don Jon”

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There are only a handful of reviews for “Don Jon” on Rottentomatoes.com, all from festivals. I was a little suspicious of Joseph Gordon-Levitt writing and directing himself in a first feature about a musclebound nitwit from New Jersey who’s addicted to porn. Right away you think, I’m not sure if I want to see that. Right?

So guess what? “Don Jon” — which has quite a cast including a knockout performance from Julianne Moore and lots of fine turns from star names like Scarlett Johansson, Tony Danza, and Glenne Headley — is quite the success. You wouldn’t think a movie about masturbation, complete with crumpled tissues, would be much good. Or that you might describe it as “sweet.” But JGL has done exactly the right things– he’s made a bunch of eccentrics incredibly likable.

JGL plays Jon, who is basically into cars, women, working out and porn. (He also loves cleaning his own apartment.) He cannot stop watching porn. He says real sex doesn’t measure up, and he has plenty of real sex with babes he picks up at clubs. His parents– Danza and Headley–worry about his lack of a relationship. Then he meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson, hilarious) for whom he falls head over heels. But she is out to change him, slowly but surely taking everything that makes Jon unique in a non-Jersey Shore way.

Into the mix comes Julianne Moore as Esther. She and Jon meet in night school, where Barbara has sent Jon to improve himself. Moore was cited from Sundance as giving the memorable performance in the film. She’s spectacular in everything she does, so no one is surprised. But there’s a beautiful nuance to her work here. I doubt “Don Jon” will get to the Oscar level. But Moore deserves the Indie Spirit Award without a doubt. She is just lovely.

And that leaves JGL, maybe the future Batman, a star of “Inception.”  He could have played Jon as a dimwit or The Situation, or any number of cliches. He doesn’t. Jon is extremely accessible, learning just enough about himself as the movie proceeds. Plus, JGL’s directing is fluid, and he gives many scenes to the other actors — in particular Danza and Headley. It was great to see them back on the screen.

So keep an eye out for “Don Jon.” It’s coming in early fall from Relativity. And it’s going to be a big hit on the indie circuit.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
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