Critics' Pick

Don Jon (R)

Comedy 90 September 27, 2013
By Stephanie Zacharek
Even when Joseph Gordon-Levitt isn't moving very much, he throws off the illusion of movement. Everything about him is alight; even his nerve endings seem to have a sense of humor. There's no dancing in Gordon-Levitt's writing-directing debut, Don Jon, although the movie is so heavily reminiscent—in the good way—of Saturday Night Fever that an arm-swinging paint-can reverie wouldn't be out of place. But the picture is agile in every other sense. It's a comedy that moves with a sense of purpose, as Gordon-Levitt does in the title role: His character is a Jersey lothario who's earned the nickname "Don" because of his success with the ladies. Jon spends his days polishing his brawn at the gym. By night, he and his friends trawl the hotspots, looking for the most babe-o-licious girls. Jon's dirty little secret, though, is that he prefers porn—he doesn't have to be anything for those girls. Then he's bowled over by a bombshell at a local club, Scarlett Johansson's Barbara Sugarman, whom he thinks might be "the one." Barbara toys with him from the beginning, though in some ways her approach is sensible: She doesn't rush into bed. At Barbara's behest, the somewhat aimless Jon begins taking night classes, where he meets a mysterious and obviously older woman—her name, as unglamorous as it gets, is Esther, and she's played by Julianne Moore. Her entrance is the point at which Gordon-Levitt's characters shift from being obvious, intentional cartoons into people with feelings. Even when his story starts getting serious, Gordon-Levitt always keeps it funny, and his cast is all in on the joke.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Brie Larson, Tony Danza, Rob Brown, Lindsey Broad, Italia Ricci, Antoinette Kalaj, Amanda Perez Joseph Gordon-Levitt Ram Bergman, Nicolas Chartier Relativity Media

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