Movie Review #679
Voltage Pictures presents…
Studio: HitRecord Films – Ram Bergman Productions
Distributor: Relativity Media
Spoken Languages: English
Directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Produced by Ram Bergman. Written by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Rated R by the MPAA – frequent and strong sexual content, nudity, profanity, infrequent drug material. Original Sundance cut rated NC-17 before edits. Runs 1 hour, 30 minutes. Premiered at Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2013; at berlin International Film Festival on February 8, 2013; at South by Southwest Film Festival in March 2013; at Little Rock Film Festival on May 19, 2013; at Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2013; at Jameson Cinefest International Film Festival on September 12, 2013; at Quebec City Film Festival on September 20, 2013; and at Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival on September 23, 2013. Wide release in the USA on September 27, 2013.
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, and Brie Larson. Also starring Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, Rob Brown, Jeremy Luke, Italia Ricci, Lindsey Broad, and Amanda Perez. With credited cameo appearances from Anne Hathaway, Channing Tatum, Megan Good, and Cuba Gooding Jr.; and an uncredited cameo appearance by Mariah Quintana.
“There’s only a few things I really care about in life. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. And my porn.”
– Don Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
If you were at legal watching age when the NC-17 rating was created (1990), please avoid “Don Jon” with your life. The movie squarely pinpoints young audiences, regardless of whether one is a fan of actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He certainly is no longer the child star the ’90s knew, to put it lightly. This one was made for those who like hard-R movies, and wouldn’t mind a movie about a guy who’s seriously addicted to porn. As in, he really has to find himself to engage in a functional relationship. Part of the fun in this movie–myself being in the under-forty demographic–is that this is a serious concern for him, so much that the movie becomes a smalltime legend of the man who tries to find his inner spirit. He even has a Miyagi, hilariously played by Julianne Moore. It’s lovably, comedically blown out of proportion, kind of the same way as “The Big Lebowski”, which can be looked at as a small-scale epic, even when it’s just about a guy who goes on a journey to hunt down the guys who pissed on his rug.
I don’t want to draw any comparisons between “Don Jon” and one of the single most hilarious movies ever made. “Don Jon”, like any movie of the past few years, isn’t literally side-splitting. What it is, is well-written comedy. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his girlfriend, Scarlett Johansson, give off perfect chemistry together. Surprised? Oh and by the way, this isn’t the Joseph Gordon-Levitt we know from “Inception”, “The Dark Knight Rises”, “(500) Days of Summer”. He’s still the coolest guy in Hollywood, and definitely not the first person to use those words, but his likability drops significantly throughout the film. And that’s how it’s supposed to be. He’s the perfect choice for the lead character, in fact. He has the chance not only to manipulate the character before the screen but also behind it: this is Gordon-Levitt’s screenwriting and his directing debut.
Where do I begin with the screenplay? It’s rather impressive for a first-timer. Five in every ten characters in his edgy story speak like the stereotypical Italian-American, but if you happen to have seen anything from “Rocky” to “Silver Linings Playbook”, this is barely a step up in exaggeration. All three of the main characters (Gordon-Levitt, Johansson, Moore) are well-developed. But what is clearly Gordon-Levitt’s strong point here is his conversational scenes. I was laughing out loud during an extended moment between Gordon-Levitt and Johansson, concerning Swiffers. Much of the dialogue flows so freely here, it’s as if Tarantino’d written it. More than anything, though, I commend the film for its style. Gordon-Levitt orchestrates this as one of the most feverishly stylized movies of 2013, in fact. Shots are either extensive or rapidly cut. Whenever Gordon-Levitt throws a tissue away, the sound effect is the same one you’d hear if you moved something to “Trash” on an Apple computer. It’s cartoonish, but that’s this whole movie.
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