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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Don Jon 2013 * * * Stars

don jonDirector: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Year: 2013
Rated R
Rating: * * * Stars
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza

As I recall, the last Joseph Gordon-Hewitt movie I saw was Looper. With a little prosthetic make up and a slight voice alteration, he willfully imitates Bruce Willis. Now in his directorial debut (not the first film he's overseen but this is the first that's not a short), he looks and acts slightly more like a young Robert De Niro (sans make up, its gotta be the smirk and the mannerisms I'm thinking). Don Jon (the flick I'm reviewing) is a quirky little movie that is interesting and amusing (not to mention foul-mouthed, crass, and overly sexual). To Gordon-Hewitt's credit, it works because of him. His direction is swift, sassy, and for the first half, unique in the way it dictates the rhythms of the actors/cuts through music and narration. Along with the solid directorial effort he shows here, he's also become a fully accomplished actor that specializes in creating different and interesting (multi layered) characters.

Muscle-chested, full of road rage tendencies and a cleanliness freak, his Jon Martello, Jr. is a study of one man's inability to formulate a relationship (with a woman) because he would rather watch pornographic material on the Internet. He's an unwealthy playboy (that's why his two best friends call him quote unquote, "Don Jon"), a ladies man, and a churchgoing type all rolled up into one. He's proud of his clean apartment and I guess, doesn't cook (that explains why he mostly eats at his parent's house). As I said earlier, Martello, Jr. has a bit of a temper from time to time and probably gets it from his dad (Jon Sr. played by Tony Danza who sheds his Who's The Boss character's image by spewing a ton of profanity). His sister doesn't talk and basically is on her phone all the time. Then there's Jon Jr.'s mother who wants so bad for him to be in a relationship, get married, and have kids. Basically for most of the proceedings, Don Jon details three things: Gordon-Levitt's (Martello, Jr.) unusual relationship with his family (he and his dad love to rock the wife beaters at the dinner table), his obsession with watching pornographic movies, and his pursuit of a "dime" of a girl that he meets at a dance club (Scarlett Johansson giving a solid performance as Barbara Sugarman (she gets the Jersey accent down pat)). And if you've only seen the trailer, this movie as a whole can be a little misleading as it gets closer to its conclusion. Don Jon ventured down a different path than I initially thought it would. The reason: A supporting role played by Julianne Moore (Esther) kinda changes things up a bit. She plays a sulking widow who befriends Gordon-Levitt's character giving him insight into his admitted condition. and all, Don Jon is fun for most of the way. It is the type of film that will cause you to laugh nervously because you feel guilty for enjoying it. Its only fault may be the way it ends things so abruptly and without enough of a satisfying conclusion (the flick went from music video mayhem to a rom com indie look). I will recommend it though for Joseph Gordon-Levitt alone. He is able to nail down any character he plays and with a slight nudge from outside forces (any male cast member from Jersey Shore comes to mind), he creates Martello, Jr. completely out of thin air. He's a darn good actor and his future A-list status is fully assured. As for Don Jon the vehicle, it may turn off certain types of moviegoers. If you are one of the easily offended, I would advise against seeing it (the innuendo is off the charts). If you don't mind your jaw dropping from time to time with the occasional guilty chuckle or snort, Don Jon might just be the "Don" Perignon of sex comedies.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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