Don Jon Seduces Critics

Joseph Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut a winning porn parable

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 27, 2013 11:05 AM CDT

(Newser) – Joseph Gordon-Levitt's writing and directing debut Don Jon saunters into theaters this weekend, and most critics seem willing to give it their number. Here's what they're saying:

  • "Don Jon qualifies as an authoritative writing and directing debut—smooth, funny, and with a terrific cast," writes Bob Mondello at NPR. And if Gordon-Levitt "eases into an ending that's a little Hollywood-standard, after having so much fun tweaking form and content, I'm guessing audiences will cut him some slack."
  • The movie might be the first to really grapple with the perils of online porn, muses Ty Burr at the Boston Globe. "When you consider an entire generation of Don Jons ... the urgency beneath this slickly clever story becomes apparent." But it never turns into a lecture. "What Don Jon is, surprisingly, is honest."
  • "None of this should work, but—aside from that accent—it does," marvels Rafer Guzman at Newsday. "A different filmmaker might have taken this story in any number of predictable directions. But Gordon-Levitt's deceptively simple characters keep surprising us." The result is a movie that's both "raw and honest" and "winningly off-the-wall."
  • As a filmmaker, Gordon-Levitt "is much the same as he is as an actor: curious, provocative, eager to dig for a bone of contention rather than bury it," writes Peter Travers at Rolling Stone. This is "a bruisingly funny, bracingly smart comic dare." Don't mistake its characters for shallow Jersey Shore knock-offs, either. "You'll laugh like hell at the antics of the Martello family, but the laughs stick in your throat."
  • But Keith Uhlich at Time Out was annoyed by Julianne Moore's character, an emotionally fragile older woman who shows Jon the light. She's "as much of a contrived construction as any of the bootylicious babes the film ultimately views, with rather off-putting contempt, as figures for all truly grown men to rebuff."

This film image released by Relativity Media shows Joseph Gordon-Levitt, left, and Scarlett Johansson in a scene from "Don Jon".   (AP Photo/Relativity Media, Daniel McFadden)
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An official trailer for Don Jon.   (YouTube)

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