Who’s Jenna…? will likely be one of the least traditional films I see in 2018. It has a very unconventional premise of a supposed porn star lookalike and financial advisor that has a surprising amount of charm. This is a film with a decent amount of flaws, but is good-natured enough to warrant checking out.
At a random bar night, Jonathan Burke (Bill Sorvino) meets Jenna (Tracey Birdsall, Rogue War), a beautiful and engaging attorney. Jonathan’s childhood friend, Andy (Joseph D’Onofrio, Goodfellas) is convinced Jenna looks just like porn star Jenna Jameson.
One of the challenges for the film is Birdsall’s likeness to Jameson ends at blonde and busty. Despite being a decade older than Jameson at 54 years old, it’s a disservice to Birdsall to claim she’s a dead ringer for Jameson in 2018.
Director/Writer Thomas Baldinger’s film doesn’t live or die with that premise though. It’s more of a quick hook from where he tackles more interesting material like Jonathan’s interactions with his racist and homophobic boss Joe Barcia (Garry Pastore, Daredevil). Barcia shoots down Jonathan’s efforts to promote his assistant Scott (Edwin Guerrero) and wants Jonathan to terminate the account with adult film star Kevin Steele (Michael Tota).
The only downside to the Barcia subplot is it takes too much time away from the Jonathan/Jenna development. There’s nothing groundbreaking about their romance, but Sorvino and Birdsall have a likable chemistry. Sorvino comes off like a young Steve Guttenberg with a relatable and earnest demeanor. Birdsall avoids playing into hot blonde cliches and makes Jenna a more well-rounded character than I expected.
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Baldinger probably could have done more with the whole girlfriend constantly being mistaken for a porn star subplot. There’s a weird feeling of bait and switch where we’re getting one movie about this challenging relationship when really it’s just a component of Jonathan’s life. Low budget filmmakers seem to struggle with romantic comedies, but Baldinger seems like he could have pulled it off.
For the most part, this derails Andy’s subplot as he’s the only one concerned about Jenna’s adult film ‘lookalike.’ D’Onofrio works hard to get some laughs that could have been made easier without stranding him with a storyline no one else is concerned about. There’s a few other oddities like Andy still having VHS tapes and a VCR as his main mode of home video viewing.
Maybe the most surprising element of the film is the Steele subplot. Baldinger makes him more than a easy punchline and there’s actual depth to the character who spends his workday having sex. The payoff to Barcia’s subplot is also very rewarding.
Naturally, there’s some giveaways that the film didn’t benefit from a multi-million budget. Some camera angles are tight, lightning is off and one scene at a golf course seems to have been done with mirrors as there’s a reflection on the actors’ on the course. The cheesy music was probably the biggest B-movie giveaway.
Who’s Jenna…? isn’t a perfect B-movie, but it’s got its heart in the right place and with better than the norm performances and a compact 95-minute run time, the film doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Indican Pictures