We gave it a C+
The opening scenes of Just Looking, directed by actor Jason Alexander, could just as easily be titled ”The Young George Costanza Story.” Set during the postwar, pre Portnoy sexual vacuum of the 1950s, the comedy follows a chunky Bronx adolescent named Lenny Levine (Ryan Merriman) as he obsessively tries to peep on grownups during ”the act of love.” It seems proof positive that you can take the man out of ”Seinfeld” but not ”Seinfeld” out of the man: You half expect a 13 year old Kramer to fall out of a tree.
Luckily, ”Just Looking” moves out of ”Porkys” territory and into more affecting (if equally predictable) coming of age turf when Lenny is shipped off to his aunt and uncle in the country (i.e., Queens) for the summer. There he meets a neighborhood tootsie (the once overhyped Gretchen Mol, giving a winsome, small scale performance that feels like a fresh start) who ultimately imbues him with a deeper understanding of human frailties.
There’s no mistaking the film for anything but a busman’s holiday — the pacing is lumpy, the acting’s all over the map, the climax features the chintziest lightning storm this side of ”The Bride of Frankenstein” — but Alexander pulls off enough Challah mark moments to hint that someday he may be master of this domain.