Just Looking

"Weak"

Just Looking Review


Here's another cliché-riddled caper about a Jewish kid coming of age in 1950s New York. This boy's name is Lenny. He's 14 and his singular mission for the summer before 9th grade is to watch two grown-ups do it.

He had a scheme to watch his mom (Patti LuPone) with her new husband, the sweaty neighborhood butcher (Richard V. Licata). But when Lenny is packed off for three months in Queens with his aunt and uncle (Ilana Levine and Peter Onorati), he makes a discovery beyond his wildest dreams: The next door neighbor is a breathtakingly beautiful nurse named Hedy (the breathtakingly beautiful Gretchen Mol) and a former bra model with an active sex life. And her bedroom window faces an empty lot of overgrown grass -- perfect to hide in with binoculars.

Directed by Jason Alexander (you know, George on "Seinfeld"), seemingly from some kind of do-it-yourself kit, the very first shot in the movie is a camera sweep of a Bronx street packed with every stereotypical Eisenhower era image the director could muster. The walls of Lenny's room are covered with baseball team pennants and pictures, all hanging at angles mathematically calculated to inspire the maximum of nostalgia. The picture's production design is like a Norman Rockwell painting run amok.

Working in his uncle Phil's deli, wide-eyed Lenny (Ryan Merriman, "The Deep End of the Ocean") befriends Hedy, who is a regular customer, and begins to have second thoughts about invading her privacy -- especially after a couple of aborted spy missions inside her house.

Meanwhile, he hooks up with a threesome of kids his own age (two girls, one guy) obsessed with talking (or rather giggling) about sex, which leads to even more clichés about learning the birds and the bees on the sly in this idealized time period. One of the girls, named Alice, is even more sex-obsessed than Lenny and likes to shock him with her savoir-faire. I only mention this because the young actress that plays her, Amy Braverman ("Walking and Talking") is the best thing in the movie. The other two Queens kids deliver their dialogue like they're reading it off of three-by-five cards.

Merriman (who is from Oklahoma but reportedly took to the New York accents like a duck to water) does a good job of playing Lenny's Swiss-cheese knowledge of sex and making this kid likable enough to get behind him for the course of the film. His never-ending narration gets on the nerves, but it's not his fault the story can't tell itself.

While the screenplay for "Just Looking" (by sitcom vet Marshall Karp) has a lot of spirit, Alexander's execution is 100-percent prefabricated. Occasional good laughs usher the story along even though it feels like watching a rerun of a sitcom cannibalized from dozens of similar movies over the years. But even this lingering geniality goes south when the last act abruptly changes gears with a deluge of weirdly uncomfortable drama about the uncle's infidelity and the pregnant aunt's delivery.

When the cataloging moral-of-the-story finale rolls around (it actually begins with the words "That summer I learned..."), there's no longer any way to deny it: "Just Looking" is just hackneyed.



Just Looking

Facts and Figures

Run time: 97 mins

In Theaters: Friday 23rd May 2003

Budget: $3M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Production compaines: Camellia Productions, Sweetland Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 45%
Fresh: 10 Rotten: 12

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Hedy Coletti, as Sylvia Levine Polinsky, as Phil De Lorenzo, as Lenny Levine, Richard V. Licata as Mort Polinsky, Marcell Rosenblatt as Mrs. Edelberg, Deirdre O'Connell as Mrs. Braverman, Lenny's Teacher

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

Advertisement
A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.