On DVD & Blu-Ray: December 31, 2013

Joseph Gordon-Levitt would like you to believe his directorial debut is a comedy, a commentary on the unrealistic expectations media-consuming millennials have come to expect because of what they see on the internet and in the movies. That these narcissistic brats who constantly text and stare at screens rather than go outside or spend quality one on one time with each other talking face to face have become so self-involved that they are numb to the effect another person might have on them; that, in many ways, we are incapable of experiencing real and true emotion. That is what the advertisements for Don Jon would have you believe, that Gordon-Levitt makes his writing and directing debut behind the smug script that caters specifically to his age set and cashes in on the unknown truth of what romance has become. There is good and bad to the fact that none of this is actually true. Don Jon is as much a romantic comedy with the R-rated twist of porn thrown into the mix as Flight was a mystery thriller about how a pilot saved almost everyone on board after the plane somehow malfunctioned. What makes Don Jon so engaging is the pure energy and palpable excitement that has been put into the project by its writer, director and star. This is clearly a project he's worked tirelessly on and to have the opportunity to manage and control a creative venture is something the multi-talented Gordon-Levitt isn't going to let slip away without leaving an impression. It is what kind of impression he leaves though that makes his film something of a question mark to figure out as you walk out of the theater. Sure, it tries to have its cake and eat it too, but it goes about it in such a charming way and has enough of a solid script and great casting to forgive the formulaic pitfalls it comes around to in the last fifteen or so minutes of the film. I like Gordon-Levitt, I think he has made smart choice after smart choice and continues to show why he deserves the recognition he's been receiving since breaking the child star curse four years ago with (500) Days of Summer. In many ways, that film and Don Jon are kindred spirits in that both characters played by Gordon-Levitt have very specific expectations of what love is supposed to be and as a director Gordon-Levitt clearly has expectations for what his film wants and needs to be as well, but while it feels like he almost gets there he's still missing that something extra. Full review here. B-

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