Susan Granger's review of 'Don Jon'
From "Pillow Talk" to pornography in three generations! In 1959, director Michael Gordon teamed Doris Day with Rock Hudson for a quintessentially innocent romantic comedy; now, his 32-year-old grandson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, has made one of the raunchiest and most explicit mainstream movies about a young man's addiction to cyber-sex.
Every Saturday night in
New Jersey, hunky bartender Jon Martello (Gordon-Levitt) hangs out with his "boys" (Rob Brown, Jeremy Luke) and picks up the most attractive woman in a bar for a one-night stand. That's why he's called "Don Jon."
But his real satisfaction comes from his laptop, which is loaded with pornography. He indulges constantly, confesses to a Catholic priest on Sunday and recites his requisite penance of Hail Marys while pumping iron at the gym. That's never been a problem until he meets sexy, sassy, gum-smacking Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson), who's determined to find an old-fashioned fantasy of Mr. Right, an idealized man who will do no wrong.
Trying to please her, brash, swaggering Jon not only enrolls in night school to "better" himself but he also takes bodacious Barbara home to meet his parents (Tony Danza, Glenne Headley) and silently-texting sister (Brie Larson).
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Problem is: insatiable Jon cannot give up his only avenue to physical ecstasy, defensively asserting, "Everybody watches porn."
And that doesn't seem to bother unconventional Esther (Julianne Moore), whom Jon meets in class. She's a lonely widow who introduces him to intimacy and sets him straight on what really counts.
As actor/writer/director Gordon-Levitt ("Looper," "50/50," "500 Days of Summer") explores what makes romantic relationships tick with bawdy, satirical frankness, adroitly guiding Johansson from sexual tease to subversive oppressor and Moore from subtle warmth to sensual heat.
As his boorish father, Danza is terrific, while Larson makes the most of her all-too-few lines. Yet, despite adroit pacing, there's too much testosterone in the racy, if redundant, masturbatory footage.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Don Jon" is a sleazy yet seductive 7, cleverly distinguishing the difference between lust and love.