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SFF’13 Movie Review: “Don Jon’s Addiction” (retitled “DON JON”)

January 24, 2013

donjonNever in my wildest dreams would I’ve imagined that Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directoral debut would be about a guy who’s addicted to porn. But, what’s surprising about the film is how tastefully done it was about a New Jersey guido whose addicted to pornography. JGL has fun with the post-production; rapid editing, non-traditional score choices, but there seems to be a chink in the chain in the story department. It’s not a bad story, but the ending is so rushed it kind of makes me feel if he just ran out of steam during the last 15 mins.

Jon Martello (Gordon-Levitt), to his friends he’s the ‘Don’, objectifies everything in his life: his apartment, his car, his family, his church, and, of course, women. His buddies even call him Don Jon because of his ability to pull “10s” every weekend without fail. Yet even the finest flings don’t compare to the transcendent bliss he achieves alone in front of the computer watching pornography. Dissatisfied, he embarks on a journey to find a more gratifying sex life, but ends up learning larger lessons of life and love through relationships with two very different women (Scarlett Johansson & Julianne Moore).

It’s quite impressive the amount of success Joseph Gordon-Levitt has accomplished through his career, his beginnings as a child actor to an indie sensation to a house hold name in mega blockbusters, like “The Dark Knight Rises” “Looper”. It was just announced that he’ll be starring in Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller’s sequel, “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”. It should be no surprise whatsoever that Levitt wanted to try his hand in directing. And why shouldn’t he? He’s worked with Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg, and stuck close by with his buddy Rian Johnson. In his first directoral effort, JGL makes it his stride to find his narrative storytelling voice, while the ends may not 100% justify the means, he still does a pretty good job for a first timer.

The positive; the story is strange enough and different enough that it automatically grabs your attention the very moment it starts to the very end credits blast onto screen. It’s a movie about a guy and his love for porn, and there’s no way around it, this dude is OBSESSED with porn. JGL said the inspiration for this unorthodox character came from the classical literary lover-boy, Don Juan. Jon is a modern day take on the famous Don Juan character; he loves women, he gets around with lots of women, he’s physically fit in every way he best sees fit, but a character like this can be somewhat tragic since he doesn’t understand what real love is. Julianne Moore’s character is the unconventional voice of reason and understanding, while Scarlett Johansson’s Barbara wants to be controlling and manipulative.

The movie does a fantastic job at exploring mild forms of addiction and certain modern-American taboos. Whether it was mean’t to or not, the movie still has a lot of fun exploiting some of them; romantic comedies is a biggie for this film. Even with all the good I’m throwing onto this movie, I think it finds a bit of trouble during the final 15 mins, and while the build up is solid for Jon’s realization, I think that his overall change in his personality is rushed and throw together at the last minute. Many people I’ve spoken to at Sundance felt that the weakest part of the movie was it’s last 10-15 mins, and it does show, but it’s not a big enough deal to call this debut outing a failure on JGL’s part. He’s got plenty of time and energy to improve on his craft as a director, after seeing this movie I’m dead set to see another Joseph Gordon-Levitt directed film, whether he stars in it or not.

On a side note, the movie features the boss man himself, Tony Danza as Gordon-Levitt’s father. The last time these two were on the same screen was the Disney family film, “Angels in the Outfield”, so it’s hard not to relish in the moments where these two go at each others throats, yelling, cursing, and bantering at one another. Not only was it amusing, but Danza’s performances is certainly one of the best supporting characters, next to [Julianne] Moore’s character.

GRADE: B+

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