"A pre-readity available porn coming of age story"
With American Pie-style antics destined to be the status quo in coming-of-age comedies for the next few years, the nostalgia-drenched simplicity of the 1950s found in Just Looking will not likely make many appearances in the immediate future.Which is a shame, because there’s just something about rites of passage films set in the 1950s that makes them superior. Accurate or not (I’m a child of the 80s, so I have no basis of comparison), the 50s have come to be idealized as a time when things were simpler, more wholesome and just plain better.
Though this little sleeper directed by former Seinfeld star Jason Alexander certainly doesn’t break any new ground, Just Looking is sweet, honest and full of good intentions. Likable Ryan Merriman plays a 14-year old kid from the Bronx whose goal for the summer is to spy some adults “doing it,” though he doesn’t really know what “doing it” means, as the only real pornography the kids of his day seem to have access to is dirty Archies comics. Certainly makes you feel for the kids of yore, being that most of us guys only had to sneak into the old man’s nightstand to catch a peek at Playboy.
His plans get disrupted when his newly married mother and stepfather decide to ship Merriman out to the country (well, I guess the suburbs of Brooklyn would be the country to him) to live with his pregnant aunt and butcher uncle.
Merriman’s quest to glimpse adults in the act of love continues when his new friend John and two teen girls form a Sex Club, where each member tries rather unconvincingly to pretend they aren’t clueless about the birds and the bees. Merriman thinks he’s found the perfect subject for his experiment in former bra model turned nurse Gretchen Mol, who gives a thoroughly charming performance that makes you wish Hollywood would give her a role other than "the girlfriend."
Considering Cinemax After Dark pretty much cleared up most of the specifics of sex for me by the time I was 14 and God knows what kids today find on the Internet, these fleeting days of youthful discovery have been lost to a generation raised on explicitness.Lost innocent found through the realization that everyone has faults and makes mistakes won’t sell as many theater tickets as lost innocence through sex with pastries, but it makes for a refreshing little movie.