It’s no surprise to learn that the star of “Don Jon,” pipsqueak Joseph Gordon-Levitt, also wrote and directed the film. Only he could see himself as a tough guy sex machine. As Jon, a lug-headed New Jersey bartender who only cares about working out and watching pornography, Gordon-Levitt provided himself with a one-dimensional character, gave him basically one problem to deal with, and then sort of did so for about two hours.
With all the subtly of a Halloween costume, Gordon-Levitt throws on a white tank top, musters an unconvincing “Jersey Shore” accent, and shows us Jon, a promiscuous young man who isn’t searching for intimacy until he meets his voluptuous Miss Right, portrayed by Scarlett Johansson. Her character has a few mildly interesting flaws; basically, she’s a delusional princess manipulating her boyfriend into becoming generic marriage material. Eventually, we realize that although we may be rooting for Jon to grow up, this girl’s affection might not be worth striving for.
The entire film is elevated by Julianne Moore, who is meant to illustrate the difference in maturity levels in the characters, but also demonstrates the difference in levels of acting ability in the actors. By the time she graced the proceedings with her lovely presence, things were too far gone for me.
I have never seen Gordon-Levitt as a potential leading man, and this little outing did not convince me otherwise. There was simply not enough at stake here, and for a character study, the character was underwritten and over acted. I’m not from New Jersey, but I was — if not offended — certainly bored by his stereotypical character.
The film opens with a montage of the pervasive sexual imagery in our culture, and the constant objectification of women. I think I wrote a poem about this in college. And the rest of the film is comprised of equally “duh” moments. His dad is sexist and wears a tank top, too. Big deal. There was little surprising, intriguing or interesting at work here, and if his frank discussion of pornography was meant to shock us, well, that did not happen either.