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Don Jon is the newest film from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, this also being his directorial/writing debut. Don (Levitt) is a porn addict and he simply enjoys the little things in life such as family, his church, his boys, sex and most importantly...his porn. His family wants him to find a nice girl and when that supposed girl walks into his life (Scarlett Johansson), everything seems to change. Though not entirely for the better. Don meets another woman at a class (Julianne Moore) who tries to guide him through his addiction and become a better man. Don Jon is a confident mess of a movie that ends up being more conventional than daring.
Being Levitt's first film, Don Jon isn't at all terrible. It's just average. On paper this movie sounds fresh and original, but the execution is a bit too safe, especially in the third act. The direction itself is very good, the structure is sound and the pacing is damn near perfect. But when the film falters, it falters. It has some awkwardly long shots, strange tonal changes, and some inconsistency in characters. Some of the comedic elements are truly funny and they hit each beat right on. It's smart, edgy and clever, but only when it wants to be.
What Levitt does so well is in his writing. There's a tone of confidence throughout the whole film that stands out. It's Levitt standing out above the crowd screaming "Hey, I can direct a movie!" The first half of the film is funny, the characters are likable and everything is relatable (even if you're not addicted to porn). It's a pretty blatant message that porn is bad, but the way it's written, it has a subtle touch. Where the film suffers is in its third act when it becomes overdone by sappy romantics and a character that feels too rushed for the change to feel natural. The performances are great all around. Johansson in particular knocks it out of the park and Levitt is just as charming as usual.
Don Jon is a solid debut, but it suffers from too many inconsistencies and cliches to make it truly stand out. Some of the casting decisions were completely off, and for a film that only ran 90 minutes, it felt a lot longer. It has moments of very solid comedy, but towards the end the tonal change is so dramatic it becomes jarring. Don Jon shines from Levitt's charm and impressive writing, but ultimately can't escape from being conventional. If this is any indication of the future, though, Levitt does have a promising career as a director. I give Don Jon 2.5 stars out of 5.
Photo Courtesy of EPK