Jon (Gordon-Levitt) cares about a lot of things and he is pretty dedicated on all fronts. He hits the gym hard, he is on a “streak” of bedding a woman on every night out with his boys and he masturbates to porn so much it seems like some sort of super power. His friends refer to him as Don Jon in tribute to his all encompassing ability to pull women, but his streak comes to a stop when he meets Barbara (Johansson) and falls head over heels in love with her. She’s big on honesty though and it’s only a matter of time before she becomes fully aware of what Jon likes to do in his spare time. Every single masturbating moment of it.
Most people think of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the small guy form Third Rock From The Sun but he has come a long way since then with some high profile roles over the last five years (500 days of Summer, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) As directorial debuts go Gordon-Levitt has hit a home run, this is not your run of the mill rom com and that’s why it’s so enjoyable. It helps that there is an inherent confidence and enjoyable rhythm to the movie as Jon flashes between his laptop, church and family dinners.
The cast work really well throughout with Gordon Levitt himself delivering a strong performance as the lead, working particularly well on screen with his father played, with incredible energy, by Tony Danza. In Johansson the casting of Barbara is perfect and she delivers what Jon describes as the most beautiful thing that he has ever seen, “she’s a dime” (that’s a ten if you don’t know your American money) Apart from being the embodiment of Jon’s perception of the perfect woman Johanson delivers the unnecessarily demanding Barbara with ease and she’s enjoyable to watch on screen.
What Jon and Barbara want for themselves are unattainable idealisations of everyday life and although it’s more palatable to criticise Jon for his porn addiction there is merit in the movie’s message. There is also some wonderfully satirical moments mixed in. Watching Jon attempt to deliver himself from evil by muttering his penance while completing reps in the gym gives an insight into the mental state of this very immature young man.
The introduction of the fantastic Julianne Moore as a fellow student at night school is Jon’s redemption as she leads him into the light while battling her own demons. Their chemistry is pitched perfectly and makes for the most enjoyable part of the film. Jon is so immature it goes almost unnoticed until she enters his life and he comes to realise there is a different way to connect with and enjoy the company of the opposite sex.
Expectations can be a terrible thing, but Gordon-Levitt manages to craft a very entertaining and at times tender story about the pitfalls that they present and how destructive they can be when they get out of control.