Just Looking (1999) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Another good film that nobody has seen. In this case that's almost literally true, because it just came out on tape, it never appeared on cable, and it only did $40,000 at the box office.
It is a historically and psychologically accurate coming of age film about a Jewish kid growing up in the Bronx in the 1950's. I know that is nothing new, and I didn't approach the film with much enthusiasm, but it was so honest and so sincere that it won me over. 


Gretchen Mol was seen topless from the side/rear. A nipple was visible in a couple of frames.
 He's 14, and he has only one current goal in life, to watch people making love. His plan to spy on his mother and her new husband (whom he despises) goes awry when they decide to send him to her sister's house in Queens for the summer, to spend time in a healthier suburban environment.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.78:1, and a fullscreen version

  • Full-length director commentary by Jason Alexander

  • deleted and expanded scenes

When he gets there, he finds that he likes his uncle, and he makes friends with a kid who works with him in the uncle's corner market. He also befriends a gorgeous 20ish ex-model (Gretchen Mol), who becomes the object of his peeping aspirations when he finds that his pregnant aunt can't have sex from the time he arrives until a few weeks after the baby is born.

In the course of pursuing his goal, he finds that all of his boyhood assumptions are challenged. He does end up learning a lot about sex, and seeing what he originally wanted to see, but at the cost of his innocence. He also finds out the price that adults have to pay for their world of sex: betrayal, disappointment, arguments, and more betrayal. He also finds that the adults that seem the best from a child's point of view are not the best when viewed with an adult eye, and he learns to look with an adult eye.

Small film, completely true to life in every detail, directed with no frills but a loving eye by Jason Alexander, the guy who played George Costanza on Seinfeld. Although this is familiar ground, the material is handled with humor, delicacy, and panache, and the movie is worth your while. 

The Critics Vote

  • no reviews on line

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 6.7 
  • With their dollars ... a bomb. Made for $3 million, it could never find its way to more than 11 screens, and grossed something like $40,000.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a B-.

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