Jon Martello's relentless libido has a comic math to it.
At the club, Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his pals rate girls on a scale of one to “a dime.” He keeps a weekly tally of both his conquests and his far more numerous — and to him more rewarding — porn-aided masturbations. And being a good Catholic boy, every Sunday, he counts up his sins and receives back from the priest his neat sum of Our Fathers and Hail Marys. (He recites them while working out.)
His life is a circle of replenishing lust, a ritual of superficial pleasure that adds up to robotic emptiness. Some like it hot; Jon (“Don,” as in Don Juan, to his friends) needs it hot. Even his most attractive catches leave him unsatisfied, and he sneaks out of bed to his laptop. Real sex doesn't measure up to the fantasy of pornography that lets him “lose himself.”
But “Don Jon,” the writing-directing debut of Gordon-Levitt, equals something quite substantial: a speedy little comedy about not just sex addiction but modern lives wasted on shallow gratification.
Jon's compulsive routine is broken when he meets Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson, in full sex bomb). She requires the “long game” of dating and family-meeting before sleeping with Jon, but he judges her worth it.
When their relationship hits a road block, Jon finds himself drawn to an older, less glamorous woman (Julianne Moore), who epitomizes everything Barbara isn't.
Until Moore fully enters the film, “Don Jon” is little more than a cartoon, constantly flashing the pornographic images that roil Jon's mind. Though the point is that Jon is a cliche, it means the journey here is merely the awakening of a mannequin.
“Don Jon” is a lark, but an enjoyable one, and it further reveals the considerable talents of Gordon-Levitt.