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Actor Jason Alexander's directing debut, a nostalgia piece set in 1955, contains some nicely observed moments, but they're buried in an unrepentantly sitcomy script. Young Lenny (Ryan Merriman), the product of a bustling Jewish neighborhood in the Bronx, is obsessed with sex; his summer goal, to spy on a couple indulging in the "act of love." He's also...read more

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Actor Jason Alexander's directing debut, a nostalgia piece set in 1955, contains some nicely observed moments, but they're buried in an unrepentantly sitcomy script. Young Lenny (Ryan Merriman), the product of a bustling Jewish neighborhood in the

Bronx, is obsessed with sex; his summer goal, to spy on a couple indulging in the "act of love." He's also deeply unhappy that his widowed mother, Sylvia (Patti Lupone), has remarried less than a year after his father's death, to a man whose name he can't even bear to say. Lenny calls his

stepfather (Richard V. Licata) "the fat butcher" and pointedly refuses to eat the choice cuts he brings home from his Kosher shop. Hoping a change of scenery might do Lenny good, Sylvia sends him to spend the summer in Queens with her pregnant sister Norma (Ilana Levine), who's married to

glad-handing Italian grocer Phil (Peter Onorati). Lenny figures Queens for the boondocks until he learns some of the neighborhood kids have a sex club. These being nice middle-class youngsters in 1955, the sex club is all talk and no action. But they swap (mis)information, look at a dirty comic

book and even do a little innocent peeping &#151 in all, pretty hot stuff. Lenny also makes a glamorous new friend in neighbor Hedy (Gretchen Mol), a sweetly flirtatious nurse who once, wonder of wonders, modeled brassieres for lingerie ads. The movie doesn't miss a predictable beat, as Lenny

learns the world is a more complicated place than he imagined: The fat butcher turns out not to be such a bad guy, Uncle Phil's feet of clay are revealed, and sexpot Hedy bares her unhappy secrets. But the young actors are charming &#151 especially Amy Braverman and Allie Spiro-Winn, the sex

club's distaff members &#151 and Lupone makes Sylvia's sharp tongue sing.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Actor Jason Alexander's directing debut, a nostalgia piece set in 1955, contains some nicely observed moments, but they're buried in an unrepentantly sitcomy script. Young Lenny (Ryan Merriman), the product of a bustling Jewish neighborhood in the Bronx,… (more)

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