News

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

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

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

in Sports

Aaron Rodgers wins 2nd NFL Most Valuable Player

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers drops back during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis.

Aaron Rodgers has won his second Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player award in somewhat surprisingly easy fashion.

in Sports

Seau, Bettis, Brown, Haley, Shields voted into Hall of Fame

halloffame

Junior Seau, Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Charles Haley and Will Shields have been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

in Entertainment, Local Sports

Lenny Kravitz will be rooting for Seahawks on Sunday

Lenny Kravitz en concert. SPE. Panoramic

Pitbull is picking the New England Patriots, while Lenny Kravitz likes the Seahawks

in Sports

Late rally lifts No. 4 Duke past No. 2 Virginia, 69-63

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski

Tyus Jones scored 17 points and hit a clinching 3-pointer with about 10 seconds remaining.

in Sports

Serena Williams wins 6th Australian, 19th major title

Serena Williams, of the United States, looks up at the scoreboard during her match against Francesca Schiavone, of Italy, in the first round of the 2013 U.S. Open tennis tournament, Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, in New York.

he 33-year-old Williams, the oldest winner of the Australian women's title in the Open era, clinched the match on her third match point with an ace.

Bellingham Traffic