The other night I sat down to watch a movie. It wasn't this movie. It was another peeping related movie. But about 15 minutes into the movie it stopped. (Don't worry, I now have a copy that works, so I'll get to writing about that one soon. On the other hand, given that it was directed by Doris Wishman, the woman responsible for such notorious cinematic atrocities as Deadly Weapons and Nude on the Moon, maybe you should worry.)
So I started watching this movie instead. The only problem was that it was not the movie I thought it was. In 1999 Jason Alexander (George from Seinfeld) directed a movie called Just Looking which was about a fourteen year old boy who vows that, before the end of the summer, he will witness a man and a woman in the "act of love". The trailer looks great, it's set in the fifties, Gretchen Moll is in it and it has been praised for its nostalgic charm.
That's the movie I thought I was watching. So I was a bit taken aback when the first fifteen minutes were all about this nerdy guy in his thirties living in what, in the 1990s, passed for the present day. He was obsessed with watching the lady next door get undressed, but otherwise I couldn't see how this was going to turn into a story about a boy coming of age in the 50s. Surely, I thought, this is just a prelude and at some stage he will start reminiscing about when he was a boy back in the fifties. The fact that a 33 year old in the 90s would not have even been born yet in 1955 never occurred to me. I'm just not that good at maths.
It was about the 25 minute mark that I realised that this just couldn't be the Jason Alexander movie. So I looked on IMDB and discovered that the 90s produced two movies called Just Looking. The one I was watching was the earlier of the two. A chick flick of no particular reputation.
Ah, well. It was about peeping. It had some boobies. All was not lost.
This Just Looking is the work of one Tyler Bensinger. He wrote and directed it. He never directed anything else. But he did write (and sometimes co-produce) episodes of television series like Beverley Hill 90210, Cold Case and Parenthood. Which probably explains why this movie comes across like a tele-movie. Maybe it was a tele-movie, but IMBD doesn't list it that way.
Jim (James LeGros) is an architect married to Mary (Michelle Forbes). They have a young daughter. Everything is fine, except that Mary seems more interested in her work for a travel agency than in making love with Jim. When she praises the youthful looks of her best friend and coworker Sherrie (Ally Walker), Jim says the Mary herself has a great figure. She laughingly calls him a liar, and politely rebuffs his offer to take her mind off her study with a little hanky panky.
"If only it was taboo for a man to have sex with his wife I think we'd all do it more often out of the sheer perversion of it," he tells himself as he pours a glass of milk in the kitchen. He can't stop thinking about the girl who lives across the way. Earlier that day, while playing on the balcony with his daughter and his neighbour's kids, he'd seen her undressing through her bedroom window.
The next day Mary and Sherrie are studying in a cafe. Sherrie is reading Mary's notes because she spent the class reading a dirty book.
She tells Mary that she spent the previous night making love on her boyfriend Craig's boat.
"It's amazing," she gushes. "I mean you don't even have to move, you know what I mean. The waves just kind of rock you back and forth. I had one of those exploding orgasms. You know the kind that just rocks you down to your toes."
Mary tells her she might want to speak up as the people at the next table might not have heard her.
"I don't care who hears me," she says. "I'm in lust."
When Mary gets home in the evening Jim suggests they rent a movie. She says she wants a scary one, but Jim admits he was thinking of something more "exotic". "Don't you think of anything else?" she chides him.
Later that evening he sees the couple across the way making mad passionate love.
He is holding his daughter's rag doll Tiffany in his hands, and his excitement is such that, without realising it, he tears it apart.
Aroused by what he has just watched, Jim crawls into bed with his wife. He tries to wake her, but she just rolls over and goes back to sleep.
In his imagination the woman he has been watching through the window turns over, looks him in the eye and calls his name.
When a colleague leaves, Jim has a chance at promotion. He tells Mary, but they are interrupted by their daughter complaining that her doll Tiffany is missing. Jim insists that he will buy her a new one. Mary thinks it is time she learned to look after her toys, but Jim says it might not have been her fault. Perhaps a squirrel stole it.
Jim has brought home a spicy movie to watch with Mary, but she finds it laughable.
He then hands her a present.
It's sexy lingerie.
"Oh, the things I do for you," she says. Clearly she feels it is more of a present for himself than for her.
When he tries to bite through her suspender, he gets his teeth stuck.
Much to her amusement.
Jim goes back to peeking at the girl across the way through toy binoculars.
One evening he is caught by his neighbour Chuck (Kurt Fuller), who thinks he is playing at soldiers. "We're all fuckin' crazy as hell, you know that," he says, and tells the story of his brother who used to blow up cats by sticking explosives up their bums.
Jim's boss Darlene Carpenter (Marg Helgenberger) interviews him for the new job. But he can't put out of his mind his work colleague's advice to not look at her tits.
And Darlene says she doesn't think he is ruthless enough for the position.
Meanwhile Sherrie persuades Mary to consider a new look.
When Jim gets home Mary tries to console him about not getting the job. But he is trying hard to pretend he likes her new short haircut.
Sherrie tells Mary she doesn't want to live without passion in her life. Mary says that just because she doesn't break out into a sweat when she sees Jim it doesn't mean their marriage has no passion.
Mary finally meets Sherrie's hot boyfriend Craig (Steve Weber).
When Mary gets home she decides to put some passion into her marriage. But unfortunately Jim has just been having a wank.
So even though she uses the ice cube trick from Sherrie's dirty book, Jim experiences "technical difficulties."
Jim has more bad luck when his wife's friend Alicia (Mary Mara) walks into the video store just as he is about to rent a porno video. He hides it behind his back, but...
...the manager loudly praises his choice of film. "Good choice," he says. "Very popular. Some Like it Hot and Juicy!" Alicia smiles as she goes out the door.
This leads to a heated argument between Jim and Mary.
Jim says that the only reason he rented a porn film was because he was feeling horny and didn't want to be rejected by Mary. She accuses him of acting like a child.
"Well, I guess I'm just not ready for middle age yet," he replies.
"Did you just call me middle aged?" she asks. "Because, if recall correctly I'm not the one who experienced technical difficulties last night."
That night Jim walks in on Mary watching the porno. She asks him if he wants her to be like the porn stars. He tells her he doesn't.
"If that's what you want I'd do it," she says bitterly. "I'd probably have to get a boob job though, and some lyposuction. Definitely a brain reduction."
"If you want one of those girls so badly, why don't you go out and find yourself one?" she asks.
"Maybe I will," he says sadly.
"Well, maybe I will too," she replies.
Mary goes to Craig's place with Sherrie.
Craig nudes up and goes in for a swim. Sherrie points out the tattoo over his butt to an embarrassed Mary.
Mary is even more shocked when Sherrie tells her than she told Craig that she and Mary had "fooled around" with each other.
She says it turned him on so much it was "almost scary." She also decides to go skinny-dipping.
Meanwhile, Jim is back watching the couple across the way make love.
Mary strips to her underwear and goes in for a swim with Sherrie and Craig. But she gets uncomfortable when Craig puts his arm around her.
Things are getting hot and heavy in the apartment Jim's spying on. He decides to use his daughter's monitor toy to listen in on what the couple are saying.
It works for a while, though he discovers the pair are foreigners who don't speak English. But when a squirrel knocks it off the ledge into the couple's apartment, he has to try to retrieve it.
Mary returns unexpectedly with Craig, who starts trying to kiss her. Jim runs over from his position at the window and yells, "Stop kissing my wife." He asks Mary why she was kissing another man.
She explains that she wasn't kissing him. He was kissing her. Then she asks him why he was hanging around that window.
And then she sees why.
And Jim sees what she sees.
And the sexy neighbour sees that she's been seen.
Sherrie is kind of pissed off, because Craig told her that Mary came on to him. She doesn't believe it though. She knows he is no good.
But for Mary and Jim things work out.
"I think sex is terribly overrated," says Mary. "It just kind of gets in the way."
"I personally can take it or leave it," admits Jim.
"I mean who could expect to have good sex after ten years anyway," she adds.
Then she give him that look.
And drags him into the bath with her.
The film is nothing terribly special, but it did make me laugh a few times and the women were sexy. And James LeGros is a talented comic actor. He reminded me of a young Robert Morse.
It's ultimately a very conservative film. Marriage is held up as the ideal. Poor Sherrie is looking for ground-shaking orgasms rather than wedlock, and so she is bound for heartbreak. Our married couple may be tempted to stray, but they never really do. But this is pretty much the standard formula for marital melodramas, which, in spite of all the comedy, is what this is.
If I were going to write a story along these lines I'd have Mary catch Jim perving at the neighbours, grab the binoculars away from him to have a look herself and find herself mesmerised by the guy's naked bod. And so Jim and Mary would be reunited by a shared love of voyeurism, fucking and wanking each other happily while perpetually peeping. But that sort of thing doesn't happen in Hollywood.
Another Great Voyeurism Story
Surf on the Beach by Cherry Sweets
Since I did my main posting on peepers I discovered this wonderful story about a bird watcher who gets more than he bargained for when he spys a woman sunbathing topless.