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‘Don Jon’ gets credit for staying provocative as long as it does


Joseph Gordon-Levitt is an actor on the rise – he’s starred in everything from romantic comedies like “(500) Days of Summer,” blockbusters like “Inception” and edgy indie fare like “Mysterious Skin.” Not bad for a guy who got his first break as a kid star in the sitcom “3rd Rock from the Sun.”

Now, he stars in a movie that he also wrote and directed, “Don Jon.”

It’s a daring move for a first-time writer and director. Gordon-Levitt tackles a potentially dark subject with lots of humor. Not so much humor that it becomes a comedy, mind you, but enough that prevents it from becoming just a sad-sack downer.

Gordon-Levitt plays a cocky young buck named Jon who thinks he’s got life all figured out. A bartender by trade, he’s a champion of the one-night stand. He and his buddies prowl the club scene every weekend and it’s a rare night when he doesn’t bed the best-looking woman on the dance floor.

But then he meets his match, a hot Jersey clubber played by a gum-snapping Scarlett Johansson. Johansson and Gordon-Levitt are both slumming here, channeling their inner “Jersey-Shore” with great gusto.

It becomes a real battle of the sexes, two master manipulators, each trying to control the other. They disagree big time, for instance, about what’s “entertaining” – romantic movies or porn. All hell breaks loose when she catches him watching porn and Jon decides once and for all that he prefers porn to the real thing, no matter how great the woman.

When an older and rather annoying woman played by Julianne Moore also confronts him about his porn, Jon meets her challenge head-on too.

He even learns a thing or two in the process.

“Don Jon” addresses a growing social issue – the ubiquity of Internet porn and its effect on today’s young men. It handles this touchy subject with so much verve and wit that it doesn’t devolve into mere scolding.

Despite its rather too pat ending, “Don Jon” deserves credit for staying provocative for as long as it does.

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