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Movie Review: Don Jon
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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Don Jon Movie Review PosterDon Jon
Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Screenwriter: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza
Relativity Media
Rated R | 90 Minutes
Release Date: September 27, 2013

Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes an auspicious filmmaking debut with Don Jon, a risqué romantic comedy about Jon Martello (Gordon-Levitt), a Jersey Shore caricature with a heart of gold… and a porn addiction.

Jon is a muscular, handsome; an all-around good guy. His buddies call him “Don Jon” due to his ability to “pull” a different “perfect 10” every weekend, but even the hottest fling can’t compare to the pleasure he finds alone in front of the computer watching pornography.

Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson) is a quick-witted, gorgeous Long Island girl – and Jon’s dream woman. Raised on romantic Hollywood movies, she’s determined to find her Prince Charming (or Channing Tatum) and live happily ever after. Saddled with unrealistic expectations of the opposite sex, Jon and Barbara both struggle against a media culture full of false fantasies to try and find true intimacy.

Written and directed by Gordon-Levitt, Don Jon tackles porn addiction and the portrayal of women in popular media and still manages to be a heartfelt film with memorable performances from a great ensemble. Tony Danza and Glenne Headly play Jon’s parents, Jon Sr. and Angela, while Brie Larson (Short Term 12) plays his uninterested sister Monica. Jon’s parents hope he’ll settle down and meet “the one” – and of course they’re overjoyed when he brings home Barbara.

Movie Review: Don Jon

At first, things between the two are great – Jon quits watching pornographic movies (or so he says) and gives up his Casanova ways, dedicating his life to having out-of-wedlock sex with only one girl. They go on lots of dates, watch a lot of bad rom-coms, but things go south with Barbara realizes Jon has a porn addiction – and that he’d rather masturbate multiple times a day than have sex with his girlfriend.

Enter Julianne Moore‘s Esther, a middle-aged free spirit who is taking the same college night class Jon is. An unexpected friendship develops between the two, leading Don Jon to admit his addiction and develop an actual connection with another human being. Don Jon is reminiscent of Jonathan Levine’s criminally underrated 2011 film 50/50, a raunchy drama-comedy with real heart, and an emphasis on family and companionship.

It isn’t the best film of the year or anything – the resolution feels too easy, perhaps not fully earned – but Don Jon is an impressive filmmaking debut for Gordon-Levitt. Entertaining and honest, with interesting characters realized by great performances, Don Jon will surprise audiences – but may turn away more conservative types with its explicit content and blunt conversations about sex, gender, and relationships.

Genuine in its intentions, Don Jon is a sexy, smart comedy and the beginning of a promising filmmaking career for Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

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