Don Jon – 4.5 stars

Joseph Gordon-Levitt directed, wrote and stars in this surprising romantic comedy about a New Jersey working class lothario who prides himself on an ability to bed the most beautiful girls at the clubs (the “dimes”) but maintains a more personal, lasting relationship with on-line porn.  When the dimiest of dimes, Scarlett Johannson, comes between Levitt and his smut, he is forced to make a choice, with the assistance of an older friend, Julianne Moore.

The picture starts out fresh and funny, getting the most out of Levitt’s conundrums and fetish, but it takes a sweet and slightly deeper turn as he comes to realize the degenerative, asocial impact of his choices.  Gordon-Levitt is a winning performer, and even as a slightly dim palooka, you invest in him. Johannson and Moore are also strong in support. In fact, the entire cast is sharp, save for Tony Danza and Glenne Headley doing a louder, less capable Robert De Niro/Jackie Weaver from Silver Linings Playbook.

In some ways, this movie appears to be the last thing a teen should watch, especially a younger one.  It is crude and deservedly R rated.  But I’m going to recommend it to my high school freshman son and senior daughter because it is original and clever and, as importantly, because it communicates a positive lesson about sex and love in a world where, well, you have porn stars wondering why they just aren’t accepted and the medical community searching for yet another clinical addiction.

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