Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt adds writer/director to his sheet with Don Jon, the new dramatic comedy starring himself as the titular macho man. Don Jon is a New Jersey meathead, semi-devoted Catholic, lover of the ladies and even greater lover of pornography. As he states amidst one of the many slick montages, Don can attract and bed plenty of women; he’s a slick talker with a ripped body. That said, women never feel as intense and sensual in the flesh, where in the digital realm, Don can find a female up for anything his mind conceives.
Then Don meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), a fellow Jersey looker. She seems to fill many, if not all, the things Don wants in a girl. Barbara is good around Don’s mildly wacky family (including a wife-beater-wearing Tony Danza); she makes him laugh and nudges the blue-collar guy back into school. At said school Don struggles to keep his lustier habits at bay. No longer able to watch porn at home, he browses his smart-phone, an act that is caught by Esther (Julianne Moore). Don finds her inquisition about his internet habits annoying and overly intrusive, even as he learns Esther understands him better than one might have thought.
Don Jon is a peculiar outing, even as it hums along at a breezy pace. Gordon-Levitt’s writing and directing isn’t particularly deep. It’s very modern, with few scenes taking up longer than three or four minutes before popping along to the next one. The whole doesn’t feel rushed though, helped assuredly by a cocky turn by JGL himself. As Don, he manages to be that just barely right concoction of arrogant and cool that “Entourage” failed to be season after season on HBO. One might pity Don’s shallow nature, but he never appears to be an outright jerk or smart-ass. His brazen attitude and willingness to embarrass himself make for a likeable-enough liar.
The details about porn-addiction are shallow. They also aren't especially preachy. In the more dramatic last act of the movie, this holds Don Jon back from being anything more than an occasionally entertaining debut; one that doesn't scream fresh voice with it.