Sundance Journal: ‘Don Jon’s Addiction’

There’s been a lot of porn at Sundance this year, for whatever reason. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut centers on a ‘Jersey Shore’ type who’s addicted to watching it.

Jon (Gordon-Levitt) is a muscle-bound New Jersey native who looks like he could be best buddies with The Situation. The movie begins with him explaining the few loves in his life: girls, his car, his church, his body and porn. Even though Jon is the Casanova of Jersey, and can get any girl he lays eyes on at the club, he still puts porn on a pedestal above them.

Even when he meets a girl played by the lovely Scarlett Johansson, Jon doesn’t want to kick the decades-long habit. He loves sex, but he loves porn more. For him, fantasy always wins over reality.

Gordon-Levitt has crafted a slick and smart comedy about objectification. The movie toes the line between drama and comedy the entire time. It starts out rather crude and ends up in a semi-sweet place. Julianne Moore shows up as an older woman who tries to tame Jon. (Sundance has also had a lot of movies about older women getting with much younger men, oddly.)

The brilliant casting of Tony Danza as Jon’s dad creates some of the best humor the movie has to offer. It’s hard to believe that the two of them filmed that wholesome ‘Angels in the Outfield’ not too long ago.

As it’s constructed now, there’s no way that the MPAA will give ‘Don Jon’ an R rating. This has NC-17 written all over it. For some reason, Gordon-Levitt decided that montages of porn clips are necessary to understand what Jon is watching. These clips are specially edited so that you don’t see any real penetration, but the strong suggestion is there. Couple that with the sheer amount of clips that have been thrown into the movie every time Jon opens up his laptop to surf for porn, and you’ve got a whole lot of unnecessary stuff that detracts from the bittersweet message the movie is trying to get across. If ‘Shame’ was smacked with an NC-17 rating, this will certainly be as well, at least in its current state.

It’s almost as if Gordon-Levitt figured that he’d throw as much questionable material into the movie as he could get away with at Sundance, knowing that if it got picked up for distribution (which it has), he’d just edit it down to something the MPAA will be able to slap with an R rating.

While this will probably be released sometime in the near future, I bet that the general public won’t ever see the same cut of the movie I did.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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