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

Hoyer gets starting job over Manziel

Fresh
Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) throws as Brian Hoyer, right, watches before a preseason NFL football game at Ford Field in Detroit, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014.

Browns coach Mike Pettine has picked Brian Hoyer as starting quarterback over rookie Johnny Manziel.

in Sports

Jim Kelly’s follow-up exam shows no sign of cancer

Fresh
FILE - In this April 4, 2014 file photo, former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly gestures during the first half of an NBA basketball game between the New York Knicks and the Washington Wizards, in New York. Kelly established a charitable foundation in honor of a son who died of a rare neurological disorder. Now it's the Hall of Fame quarterback who needs assistance during what's been a yearlong battle with jaw and sinus cancer.

Jim Kelly shows no evidence of sinus cancer three months after the Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame quarterback completed radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

in Sports

Schilling blames chewing tobacco for mouth cancer

Fresh
WP-RedSoxCurtShilling

Former major league pitcher Curt Schilling says he's battling mouth cancer and blames 30 years of chewing tobacco use.

in Sports

7 charged with trespassing at Ray Allen’s home

Fresh
WP-HeatRayAllen

Seven people accused of walking through an unlocked door at the home of former Miami Heat player Ray Allen have been charged with trespassing.

in Viral Videos

Robin Williams musical tribute: ‘Seize the Day’

24-overlay5

Robin Williams' best films are remixed and set to music in this awesome Melodysheep tribute.

Bellingham Traffic