DON JON (2013, Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
I tried watching an episode of The Jersey Shore but I just couldn’t deal with it. As insanely clownish as the people were, I had trouble finding much entertainment value in watching a guido minstrel show. For many of the same reasons, I’m not down with Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut — in which he casts himself as The Situation with a porn addiction. There’s nothing about him (even in the final act) that’s interesting enough that I care about watching his transformation from d-bag to semi-d-bag. I spent most of the time looking for other characters to get interested in. But Gordon-Levitt’s Jon is on screen in every single scene.
Not that I dislike him as an actor — in fact, he’s been one of my favorite young talents for years. Just watch MYSTERIOUS SKIN, BRICK, and THE LOOKOUT to see the kind of phenomenal work he’s capable of. And here, he isn’t bad, but the script he wrote for himself is not appealing. Jon is a self-centered misogynist with frequent bouts of road rage, and we’re led to believe he gets a lot of this from his stereotypical Italian-American Jersey dad (played, not surprisingly, in two-dimensional sitcom fashion by Tony Danza). Scarlett Johansson’s Barbara starts off as far more interesting a person (and Johansson is really good, accent and all), but soon reveals herself to be as much a plot machine as anything else. Julianne Moore (perhaps the best actress alive not named Meryl) is obviously the most fascinating character we meet, but this is Jon’s story, not hers. And that’s a shame.
Aside from a few chuckles here and there and a quasi-interesting directorial gimmick where many shots are repeated to show the monotony of Jon’s life, this is shallow and predictable stuff. It does reek of a first film, a voice that wants to get everything out as loudly as possible, and it suffers for that. It isn’t loose or charming, it’s just a little dull.