JGL strong in directorial debut

Peyton Callanan

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut is about porn. Yep, that’s right, the little kid from “Angels in the Outfield” made a movie about a man with a porn addiction.

Gordon-Levitt (“Looper”) made the transition from child actor to adult actor pretty smoothly, recently staring in a varying string of movies from indie comedies like “50/50” and “500 Days of Summer” to big blockbusters like  “Inception” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Now Gordon-Levitt is trying to spread his wings as a fledging writer and director with this fall’s “Don Jon,” a comedy in which the title character’s porn addiction is affecting his real life relationships.

At first the plot of “Don Jon” may seem like something a more desperate former child star would dream up to prove that he really is “adult,” but the movie is actually a very honest and heartfelt look into the give-and-take within relationships.

For a directorial debut, “Don Jon” is certainly something for Gordon-Levitt to be proud of, especially considering he is pulling triple duty as the screenwriter and leading man as well as sitting in the director’s chair.

He managed to score a stellar cast, including another former child star turned A-lister Scarlet Johansson (“The Avengers”) playing the girl main character Jon tries to change his playboy ways for.

The biggest asset, and unfortunately the most underused, to this film is Julianne Moore (“The Big Lebowski”). Moore plays down-to-earth Ester who is the only person that sees Jon for who he really is.

Recently Moore was able to breath new life into her career with several other similarly themed adult comedies like “The Kids are All Right” and “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”  She grounds this film and brings not only expert acting but also great depth to the scenes she is in.

The movie feels a bit rushed toward the end, and Gordon-Levitt was unable to make all of his characters completely three-dimensional, but for his first film it is very well thought out.  Gordon-Levitt just seems like someone who really loves movies, and that excitement can be felt within the film.

Despite the somewhat risqué subject matter, “Don Jon” is clever, fun and honest. And it’s a very solid debut for Gordon-Levitt.