Warning: the words "cock," "cum," and "masturbation" are used in this review. With that out of the way, let's get filthy.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is constantly on the move, making new projects with his online art collaboration company, HitRECord.org, and working as an A-list actor with some of Hollywood's most prolific directors. The Boy Wonder has now taken his career in a gutsy new direction: writing, directing, and starring in a movie called Don Jon, about a rico suave obsessed with porn.
And not just your Average Joe (hehe) who likes porn - this guy lusts for porn and watches it while in class, driving, and after having sex with a woman you and I would never ever get a second glance from. He's so unsatisfied with the sex he's having with these unreachable-to-the-average-guy women that he sneaks into his living room when they're asleep and pounds one out to some X-rated goodness before slipping back into bed with them. To him, perfect sex is what a the porn classics show: throat-fucking, ass-spanking, spitting, anal-licking - the whole nine yards. Yeah, it gets weird, but Don Jon is slick, sexy, and hilarious.
When we first meet Don Jon (Gordon-Levitt), he's masturbating to porn he found on the Internet. Nothing unusual for a typical male. But this guy really wants to satisfy his rabid curiosity about pornography. His masturbation is like a celebration: He sits there naked, watching clip after clip, and never touches his cock until the right one mentally and physically arouses him. And when that happens, he hits the highest euphoria he could ever possibly reach, then tosses the cum-filled tissue into the trashcan. Then repeats. He does this roughly 10-15 times a week. There's nothing else he's this passionate about.
In his public lifestyle, he hangs out with his fellow guido bros, who call him "The Mighty Don" because he can take home any girl in the club he wants just by giving her a glance. But, as fate should have it, he meets one who shoots him down, which fucks with his world and masturbation schedule. Her name is Barbara (Scarlett Johansson, in her most bombshell appearance) and she's not looking for a one night stand - she's a princess looking for Prince Charming. Since he's a himbo with not a lot of common sense or concern for anyone's well-being but his own, he challenges himself to do the unthinkable in the hope of sticking his man part into her woman part: be a gentleman. This means taking her to the movies, pretending to listen to her talk mumbo jumbo, and picking out new curtains for her home. It's really, really fucking up his masturbation schedule.
Despite being shockingly graphic (there's more clips of real porn shown in in this film than a porn itself), Don Jon works on many levels. It's cheeky, self-mocking, and filled with ridiculously hilarious cameos from today's biggest stars. Everyone in this film is in on the joke. And while there's some serious content tackled here, the film focuses on the self-mocking side of addiction, and takes more of a flirtatious look at the issue. For example: Don Jon and his family are devout Catholics. When he goes in for confession, he uses the number of Hail Marys he must do for penance and matches it to his workout routine.This is probably why Don Jon is so ripped - his constant masturbation and sex out-of-wedlock racks up the Hail Marys.
Don Jon is filled with a lot of masturbation, pornography, and the wholesome, sweet Joseph Gordon-Levitt as he's never been seen before. He's all muscled up, acts like a Jersey Shore meathead, and only has one thing on his mind: the next time he's going to jerk off. The boy you once saw in Angels in the Outfield sat this one out. The JGL we get here is filthy and awesome. This is where I applaud Gordon-Levitt. He's the nice next door neighbor, has kept his private life quiet, and is known to be one of the sweetest guys on this planet, but risks his wholesome reputation to try something brash and possibly unwatchable for some of his fans. He does pretend to be masturbating a lot, so that should stimulate the ones who lust for him.
Buried underneath the cum-filled tissues and talk of blowjobs and X-rated movies is a damn good story about reality versus fantasy. The more a man gets involved with watching pornography, the more skewed his mind will be on how real sex is supposed to be like. It shows how addiction and obsession can and will start to corrupt everyday life.
Besides Gordon-Levitt dominating every scene he's in, there are two other great stand outs. Tony Danza returns to the big screen, bossier than ever as Don's father, the older version of Don Jon. He talks like a sailor and gawks at Don Jon's girlfriend when he brings her home. The only good quality about him is that he'll someday die.
The film really picks up its sweet side when Julianne Moore begins her screen time. At first she seems to be an irritating cretin in Don Jon's life, but she just might be the loose cannon he needs to regulate his irregular lifestyle. It goes without saying, Moore is a marvelous actress and this role is just another reason to love her.
It's clear Gordon-Levitt has jotted down notes from all the directors he's worked with over the years, and his admiration for thoughtful mise-en-scéne really comes through in key moments in the film. Whenever we see Barbara, she's well-lit at all times, evoking Alfred Hitchcock's masterful use of lighting on Kim Novak in Vertigo. And there are moments when the score flares up and the camera spins in circles around its two leads as they kiss, feeling like a romantic scene from a 1940s American classic, but more erotic than James Stewart could possibly imagine. Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes It's a Wonderful Life look like Tits a Wonderful Life. Brilliant, gutsy, and fantastic.
Review originally published in slightly different form during the Sundance Film Festival in January 2013, when the film premiered as Don Jon's Addiction. Subsequently the film has been edited in order to secure an R-rating in the U.S. As Don Jon, it opens wide in North America on Friday, September 27.