"Undermining Good Intentions"
What You Need To Know:
The first two-thirds of JUST LOOKING focus on Lenny’s immoral, voyeuristic, and often very crude, quest for sexual knowledge. The final third, however, contains some very positive moments. Particularly moving, and even morally uplifting, is a scene of reconciliation between Lenny and his stepfather. This scene is a key one, because it reveals the positive messages on fatherhood, marriage and masculinity which the movie delivers so well in its final third act. Ryan Merriman as the young Lenny is truly a find. Director Jason Alexander of TV’s SEINFELD captures the essence of the period details and the period characters in Marshall Karp’s excellent script. It’s too bad, however, he couldn’t greatly tone down or eliminate the script’s strong foul language and explicit sexual content. It’s those things that earn the movie a well-deserved R-rating and greatly diminish one of the year’s best-made movies
(PaPa, B, C, LLL, V, SSS, NN, A, D, MM) Pagan worldview with some moral elements (especially in one scene at the end) & a mild redemptive theme of forgiveness & reconciliation; 24 obscenities (including some “f” words), 12 mild profanities, 4 strong profanities, much crude language about sex, & some clinical descriptions of sex & private human anatomy; mild violence such as man punches another man in the eye & kid wrecks his bike in an accident; strong sexual content including depicted adultery, semi-nude unmarried couple embraces, strong voyeurism elements, much crude language about sex from young teenagers, some clinical descriptions of sex & private human anatomy, young teenagers form sex club to talk about sex, young Roman Catholic female teenagers tell boys that Roman Catholic girls don’t “do it,” pregnant woman goes into labor, & boy experiences his first kiss; partial male & female sexual nudity; alcohol use, including young teenager drinks watered-down beer; smoking; and, lying, child rebels & adults are caught doing bad things.
JUST LOOKING is a very well-made, lively coming-of-age movie set in 1955 in New York City. Regrettably, however, it undermines the best intentions of its story with strong foul language, overly explicit sexual descriptions and other immoral content.
Jason Alexander, who played George in TV’s popular SEINFELD sitcom, directs this bittersweet period movie. In the story, 13-year-old Lenny is not getting along with his new stepfather, a chubby Jewish butcher. Since he seems so unhappy, Lenny’s widowed Jewish mother decides it may be best if Lenny spends the summer with her younger sister in Queens. The sister recently married a man named Phil, the Italian owner of a small grocery store.
Phil and Lenny immediately hit it off, but Lenny’s main goal before school starts again is to actually witness two people engaged in the sex act. Watching his aunt and uncle are out of the question, he finds out, because his aunt is pregnant. Lenny’s perverted interest then turns to the beautiful young nurse in the neighborhood, Hedy, who, rumor has it, is sexually active with a handsome young doctor.
Lenny’s experiences in Queens uncover an unexpected common bond between Lenny and Hedy and some painful family secrets. They also lead to several bittersweet, but ultimately uplifting, scenes between Lenny and his uncle, Lenny and his stepfather, and Lenny and Hedy. Almost as an aside, Lenny finally gets his true first kiss from a precocious Roman Catholic girl living near his aunt’s house.
The first two-thirds of JUST LOOKING focus on Lenny’s immoral, voyeuristic, and often very crude, quest for sexual knowledge. The final third, however, contains several very insightful, moving scenes that are among the best scenes in any movie this year. Particularly moving, and even morally uplifting, is a reconciliation scene between Lenny and his stepfather. This scene is a key one, because it reveals the positive messages on fatherhood, marriage and masculinity which the movie delivers so well in its much less salacious, final third act.
Ryan Merriman as the young Lenny is truly a find. His excellent, nuanced performance may remind many viewers of River Phoenix in another coming-of-age movie, STAND BY ME. Gretchen Mol as Hedy and Peter Onorati as Uncle Phil also shine, as does the rest of the cast, including the other child actors. Director Jason Alexander captures the essence of the period details and period characters in Marshall Karp’s excellent script. It’s too bad he couldn’t greatly tone down or, better yet, eliminate, the script’s strong foul language and explicit sexual content. It’s those things that earn the movie a well-deserved R rating and greatly diminish one of the year’s best-made movies. Ultimately, they undermine all the good intentions in the movie’s dramatic, bittersweet ending.
Of course, Jesus Christ condemns all unlawful sexual practices and all unlawful sexual lust in Mark 7:21. This is the correct interpretation of the English word “fornications” which is used in the King James Version, as translated from the Greek by STRONG’S EXHAUSTIVE CONCORDANCE. Everyone, including filmmakers, have a duty to God to follow Christ’s teaching in these matters, because Christ’s teaching about sex is also God’s teaching about sex in the rest of the Bible, including the writings of Moses and the other Hebrew prophets, who predicted Christ’s incarnation on earth.