News

REVIEW: Joseph Gordon-Levitt scores with ‘Don Jon’

REVIEW: Joseph Gordon-Levitt scores with ‘Don Jon’

Photo: YouTube

Genre: Comedy, Drama | Run Time: 90 min | Rated: R
Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt | Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson

By: George Wolf

Look at little Tommy Solomon! Joseph Gordon-Levitt has proven himself a versatile actor in the years since his TV career in the guise of a pre-pubescent Earthling. With his newest effort, Don Jon, he exhibits surprising confidence and aptitude as both a screenwriter and a director.

The film follows Jon (Gordon-Levitt), a Jersey player who cares deeply about only a handful of things: his bod, his pad, his ride, his family, his church, his boys, his girls, his porn.

Guess which one of those gets him into trouble.

Maybe the best way to appreciate what Don Jon is, is to quickly cover what it is not. Don Jon is not a traditional romantic comedy. It is not a sexy romp, or a perfect flick for hangin’ with your bros.

No. It’s a sexually frank, cleverly written, confidently directed independent comedy/drama about our culture of objectification. It’s an alert comment on a society that fears intimacy, collects trophies, and looks to get more than it gives; a culture that raises girls to want to be princesses, and guys to collect sexual conquests. A culture where a fast food restaurant honestly advertises its newest sandwich by having an oiled up, bikini clad super model enjoy the tasty burger.

The effort certainly carries its flaws, but JGL gets credit for upending expectations, and for brilliantly paralleling romantic comedies and porn – because, let’s be honest, they are equally damaging to our concept of relationship.

Writing and direction are nothing without a cast, and Gordon-Levitt proves just as savvy in that department. Tony F. Danza, ladies and gentlemen! Danza has fun as Jon’s role model father, while this season’s go-to girl Brie Larson – with barely a word – scores as his observant sister.

Gordon-Levitt’s own perfectly crafted swagger finds its match in a gum-chewing Scarlett Johansson, whose sultry manipulator is spot-on.

The fledgling auteur stumbles by Act 3 – quite a letdown after such a well articulated premise. The underdeveloped resolution would hinder the effort more were it not for the presence of Julianne Moore as the eccentric and wise Esther. The role may be a bit clichéd, but Moore is incapable of anything less than excellence.

It won’t be long before we’re saying the same of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Until the end, he proves himself an insightful observer of his times, a cagey storyteller, and an artist with limitless potential.

Verdict-4-0-Stars

Read more reviews by George Wolf.

Recent Headlines

6 mins ago in Sports

Reigning NL batting champ banned 80 games for doping

Fresh
marlinsdeeREUTERS

Dee Gordon of the Miami Marlins was suspended 80 games without pay after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, Major League Baseball said.

1 hour ago in Entertainment

‘Angry Birds,’ apps to go hand-in-hand at the movies

Fresh
21-overlay-15

Creators of the upcoming "The Angry Birds Movie" movie will ask audiences to whip out their phones during the end credits and point them at the screen.

3 hours ago in Entertainment

‘Fast & Furious 8’ revs up for historic Cuba shoot

Updated
FastCuba575123770627

Director F. Gary Gray has turned the key on the "Fast 8" production in Havana, making movie history by becoming the first filmmaker to shoot a major Hollywood project in Cuba in over 50 years.

4 hours ago in Sports

Watch Richard Sherman pick up unsuspecting passengers

20-overlay-14

The Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl winner takes a side gig as a driver for Lyft.

4 hours ago in Sports

NFL: Raiders hope to move to Vegas

markdavisraiders16119669574354

Raiders owner Mark Davis says he wants to move the team to Las Vegas and is willing to spend a half billion dollars as part of a deal for a new stadium in the city.