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Don Jon

Like the cast of Jersey Shore made an After-School Special on the difference between hook-ups and relationships

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Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a successful New Jersey lothario, though he freely admits he prefers masturbating to Internet porn. Then he meets a "dream" girl (Scarlett Johansson), and tries to make a go of a real-life relationship. Some parts of Gordon-Levitt's film — he wrote and directed this comedy — are a funny send-up of the Jersey-centric dating scene: all gym-tan-laundry, gum-cracking and Sunday pasta dinners with the parents. It's as if the cast of Jersey Shore were tasked with making an After-School Special on the difference between hook-ups and relationships.

But in the final third, the film veers into more serious territory, and tries to make some nuanced points about sex, love, artificial expectations created by porn or rom-coms, why feelings matter and blahblahblah. It's a bit like cruising along in Jon's silly-but-fun muscle car and then hitting a speed bump hard. I respect the intentions, but I didn't find this successful as a comedy-message-film hybrid. And I'm a little troubled that this film gets to have it both ways: ogling a lot of women and treating them as rate-able sex objects all in the name of mildly criticizing this behavior. But plenty of people laughed at all that, so check your own comfort level.

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