Bartender Jon (Gordon-Levitt making his writing and directing debut) has two states of being: taking a girl home from a club and masturbating to porn; he has a scientific approach to porn, his honest narration telling us that he's able to 'lose himself' in the moment in a way he can't with a real woman. In short, sex never lives up to what porn can give him. When he meets Barbara (Johansson) sparks fly but even she's not enough to stop him logging on...
It takes a bit of mental gymnastics to get on board with nice guy Gordon-Levitt as the misogynist Don Juan but the quiff, the new buff build - he is either in a sleeveless tee or vest to show it off - and the thick New Jersey twang go a long way to help him reinvent himself for ninety minutes. And he has some great chemistry with Johansson, who has fun with her Jersey Shore impression.
Don Jon covers a lot of ground. The movie opens with a montage highlighting the objectification of women but it's only when Jon brings Barbara home to his alpha male pop (Danza) that it becomes clear how inherited in the system the problem is - the son beams with pride when his dad calls his girlfriend, "a piece of ass." With this a running theme throughout, it's odd that Gordon-Levitt's camera insists that we admire Johansson's figure every moment she's on screen.
How porn warps romance crops up when Jon tells his buddies how much he is in love with Barbara because, "she'll let me do ANYTHING." Then there's equating the fantasy of porn versus the fantasy of the Hollywood romantic ideal with both being impossible to live up to for all concerned. Barbara has her own idea of what a man should be - she's disgusted to learn that Jon takes pride in cleaning his apartment, reminding him, "You're a grown man!"
Kudos to Gordon-Levitt for wanting to raise so much in his first script, but he could have done more than just raise them. Disappointingly, Moore, a woman in Jon's evening class, exists solely to show Jon that women are more than just bodies and the outcome of that friendship is a little obvious. But in keeping the dialogue snappy and the pace energetic his debut is a success.