Joseph Gordon-Levitt has sure come far from being "the kid on 3rd Rock From The Sun" and he now adds "writer/director" to his CV with the impressive, but ultimately not-totally-satisfying Don Jon.
He also stars as the titular Jon, a stereotypical Jersey Shore-esque Italian-American Guido who likes to work out, hang with his bros, score with the hot ladies at the club and watch and jerk off to lots and lots and LOTS of online porn. You know, typical male guy stuff or something. His crank-yanking habit hits a snag when he starts dating Scarlett Johansson, who doesn't let him bed her immediately and who seems to be The One though she has some MAJOR problems with his looking at porn. (This isn't as crazy as it sounds. I once dated a girl who was appalled that 19-year-old me was a Playboy subscriber because she thought she should be enough for me.)At her urging (read: badgering), he starts to take a night class and cuts back on the porn (his real extramarital sex vs. porn wanking ratios are tracked via his confessions), but there's something wrong with how this is happening, so problems ensue.
There's a lot to like about Don Jon. JGL has a snappy eye and ear and the cinematography and editing are ace. However, there are some tonal issues which really threaten things late with the character played by Julianne Moore. She's set up sketchily and there is a detail about her that is too heavy (no, she's not fat) for the overall light tone of the rest of the film and frankly, what she teaches Jon seems rushed and too pat. I just didn't quite buy what she was supposed to represent; it's as if JGL wanted to end with a Deep Thought About Love when the previous 85% of the movie was of a different stripe.
That said, there are some astute observations, particularly about how rom-coms are the woman's version of pornography, presenting unrealistic images of what relationships are about. (I'm not going to spoil who the cast of Special Someone is but to say that the guy is sure getting around for wacky cameos.) ScarJo is also very good as a gum-cracking ball-breaker and it's interesting to see her play what is ultimately a beyatch. It's too bad that JGL totally passes on the appropriate comeback for their final scene; both my girlfriend and I agreed on what the line should've been.
Score: 7.5/10. Rent it.