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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Don Jon



In Don Jon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has to make a choice no man would envy between a relationship with Scarlett Johansson or giving up his lifelong love affair with Internet porn. He can't have both. That's a fucking catch-22 if there ever was one. 

In his debut film as a writer and director, Gordon-Levitt stars as a studly gym-tan-laundry New Jersey mook admired by his bros as the "Don" for his ability to bag any piece of ass he picks up in their favorite nightclub. But even during and especially after sex with a real girl, the allure of his beloved Internet porn is a siren song he can't ignore. In Johansson, Gordon-Levitt thinks he's found the perfect 10 for him. He even tolerates her making him wait for sex, but when she catches him jerking off to Internet porn after they've soiled the sheets ("making love", as he rolls his eyes at the female terminology) she goes ballistic. So he does what any guy would do: he lies and moves on to watching porn on his smartphone. Until she catches him again by trolling his laptop. ("All you do is look at porn! It's your whole history!")

Brutally honest and blisteringly funny, Don Jon lobs a lot of truths out there about the dating scene: the expectations and complete lack of preparation for actual intimacy many men have in our modern culture oversaturated with sexual imagery. Then there's the easy (and free if you know how to find it) access to unlimited amounts of pornography on the Internet; always there, always available to "lose yourself in", with no effort to make. One of the best running jokes in Don Jon is Gordon-Levitt's weekly confession at church, giving the count for how often he masturbated to porn (dozens of times per week!) and treating the amount of "Our Fathers" and "Hail Marys" he's told to recite as a progress report on how well he's doing. On the flip side, Don Jon also casts a withering look at the unrealistic expectations women can have for men; some of them, like Johansson, "princesses" weaned on a lifetime of watching schmaltzy Hollywood rom coms where "the guy gives up everything for the girl".

Also a lot of fun are Gordon-Levitt's Sunday dinners with his family, his macho pop Tony Danza, put-upon mom Glenne Headly, and his bored and perpetually texting sister Brie Larson. Danza and Gordon-Levitt, slurping pasta in front of football games playing a huge HDTV, are a trip, arguing over who's the alpha male while wearing matching white wife beaters. Imagine Sima and Mufasa from The Lion King if they were father-son Jersey goombahs. Of course, Headly is over the moon when Gordon-Levitt brings Johansson home and is devastated when he has to report she ditched him. Larson steals every scene she's in by never saying a word; she's like an upgraded version of Kevin Smith's Silent Bob character, observantly understanding her idiot family clearly because she keeps her mouth shut. Finally, there's Julianne Moore, the weird older lady at Gordon-Levitt's night classes who has more than a few things to teach him about women and being a real man. But the star of Don Jon is this guy. This fuckin' guy right here, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He made a hell of a fuckin' movie, this guy.