Had enough of watching the news about Obamacare and all the other disappointing things going around in this country? Then you’re in for a treat. You get to escape for 90 minutes watching Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s “Don Jon.” He plays Jon Martello who spends his nights clubbing with two buds who are in constant awe of Jon’s batting average with the women.
In an unending stream of illustrated narration, Jon fully acknowledges his prowess but unfavorably compares the real thing to porn, which he devours with an appetite that is never sated. When he dutifully attends his neighborhood church for confession every week, he enumerates with immaculate precision how many sins he has committed with women, usually one or two and with the assistance of porn, always well into double digits.
Jon’s voice-over is extremely explicit in detailing his sexual likes and dislikes, while the accompanying footage of actual porn stops just short of showing what is being described. The film comes alive with the arrival on the scene of Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), whose 10-plus status is undercut only by her thick Jersey accent and constant gum-chewing. She does nothing to deflect Jon’s throbbing interest in her but won’t sleep with him for a long time. When they finally do it, he’s convinced he’s finally found the woman for him, but this still doesn’t squelch his addiction to porn.
When Barbara finally finds out about it, she’s outta there without giving him a second chance, she won’t play second fiddle to his fantasy life and couldn’t trust him to change his ways. But his prospective soon is altered by an older woman, Esther (Julianne Moore), a fellow night school student who initially comes on too strong but ultimately provides the means by which he can begin to stop objectifying women as he has since he was a teenager.
Both as a director and actor, Gordon-Levitt is switched on all the time. As Jon’s dad, Tony Danza’s an amusing loudmouth whose estimation of his son goes up tenfold when he brings Barbara home for dinner. Johansson seems to enjoy a sex bomb several stages down in station from her real self, while Moore, after her character’s stumbling start, offers some provocative variations on the character of a needy, love-starved middle-aged woman.
Channing Tatum and Anne Hathaway turn up in a goofy trailer for an imaginary film shown in a movie theater where Jon and Barbara go on a date. It would have been cool if they went to see “Saturday Night Fever” since “Don Jon” is our generation’s “Saturday Night Fever.” This movie will make you happy when you leave the theater. Levitt has that infectious smile.