In Joseph Gordon-Levitt's debut as a writer-director, he plays, to the hilt, a working-class Italian-American New Jerseyan, dutiful frequenter of church, the gym, douchey nightclubs, his parents' dining room (where Pa Tony Danza wears an apparently influential wifebeater), and countless raunchy porn sites. The worldview is expressed thusly: "Real pussy's all good, but I'm sorry: It's not as good as porn." He's not really sorry. Of course this presents a problem for his newest and most promising club conquest, played by Scarlett Johansson, who's an apostle of cheesy rom-coms and therefore prey to her own culturally encouraged objectification habit. Her eventual disgust with him seems carefully correlated to being a grown woman with a Titanic poster on the wall of her bedroom full of stuffed animals. More to the comedically intended point is that Gordon-Levitt's swaggering young lothario, seen grunting at the laptop one night, then grunting out his assigned Hail Marys during dumbell reps the next day, just can't manage a human relationship. Handily, some tough tutelage is available from an emotionally open older woman, played by Julianne Moore. Abetted by snappy editing and game supporting performances, Gordon-Levitt's confidence is appealing, even if the film itself mistakes redundancy for profundity. What he's made is a message movie for Joisey meatheads, which the rest of the nation may or may not enjoy.
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