Joseph Gordon Levitt has quickly become one of my favorite actors, and, from seeing him interviewed and watching him on hitRECord, I'm pretty sure he may be one of the nicest guys in show biz. I remember watching him on the red carpet, at the Oscars this year, and he was so star struck, because he got to meet Dustin Hoffman. This guy has been in the business since he was a kid, and he still has a great appreciation for great artistry of all kinds. With all that being said, my expectations were kind of high (and extremely hopeful), as JGL made his directorial debut. I don't know why, but I like to think that I have some sort of connection with JGL, and his success or failure is more personal to me than that of many other actors or directors (I'm sure he feels the same way about me!). There are just some actors, athletes, musicians, etc... that I like to think of as my friends. Examples: Jimmy Fallon, Steve Carrell, Aaron Sorkin, Brad Paisley, AWOLNATION, and on and on and on. Honestly, the topic of Don Jon didn't matter to me. I just wanted to see what Joseph Gordon Levitt could do, because we're such great friends and all...
Well... Don Jon is not a family film. That's for sure! In the beginning, I couldn't tell if the film was meant to be dramatic or if the entire thing was just making fun of addictions, specifically those of a sexual nature. However, as the film went on, a heart was found underneath all of that talk of pornography and chick flicks. Unfortunately, I didn't really care for the storyline, as it just left me unsatisfied throughout. There weren't really any negatives that I could point out, but it just lacked any sort of WOW moment that you want in a film. Maybe JGL just went a little bit overboard with the artistic presentation, missing an opportunity to tell a reflective, dramatic story. Also, the ending fizzled into a boring mess, which was quite disappointing.
Although Jon wasn't a typical JGL character, there was no doubt that the character was written by him for him. Was it a flawless performance?... No. But, I did enjoy the character. The best part of the film, in my opinion, was the family dynamic, which I didn't really expect to play such a huge role in the life of JGL's arrogant character. Without that family aspect, I don't know that I would have enjoyed the film at all.
Julianne Moore's Esther was probably the most awkward character of the year... Not the worst, but definitely awkward... At first, I didn't understand why she mattered, and, then, she started to connect with me, and, then, I was just baffled. Her character may have been intentionally awkward, but I think she could have been used in a better way throughout. Another character that was misused was Jon's sister, Monica, played by Brie Larson. There was no doubt that she was going to have a big moment, at some point in the film. Unfortunately, that moment came and went awkwardly and unnecessarily.
Jon's parents, played perfectly by Glenne Headly and Tony Danza, made the film at least ten times better, all by themselves. The hilarity was absolutely great, and I just wanted them to be in every single scene of the film. I haven't seen Headly in much, but she gave one heck of a performance in Don Jon.
Typically, I'm not overly critical of particular aspects of films, because I'm not really educated enough to pick them apart, from a technical manner. However, I found myself really analyzing every aspect of Joseph Gordon Levitt's directorial debut. Maybe it's because I consider myself a fan of his... Maybe it's because I have an appreciation for what he does as an actor and with hitRECord... Regardless, I guess I just expect a lot of him. So, here are some generic criticisms: (1) Some of the jokes fell a bit flat (not all of them). (2) The ending was quite dull, after the loud, crazy tone of the rest of the film. (3) Much of the character development was unclear. Luckily for JGL, I still love him and hope that he keeps it up. He has a long career ahead of him, and I am happy to have had the opportunity to see most of his work to this point. Don Jon may not be a classic, but it could be a classic's predecessor. I give Don Jon 2.87 out of 5 stars.