Jack follows Charlie (Luke Rollason), an awkward British teenager desperate to get some. He hangs out with a motley crew of weirdos and burnouts of various orientations, all on their own quests to find a partner. Rock (Philip Tomlin) is his gay bestie, whose advice is consistently suspect. Charlie is more or less resigned to his relative celibacy until Barbie (Angela Sant’Albano) shows up at school. She’s a French-Canadian exchange student whose every step gives Charlie a psychosexual breakdown. He’ll do anything he can to befriend her, to make her his. Hijinks ensue.
The story follows the usual template for this sort of thing. Charlie’s friends all embody certain archetypes, as do Barbie and her friend Amber (Saskia West), the hot girl secretly crushing on Charlie the whole time. Embarrassing antics, miscommunications and the usual “pretending to be gay to get close to the cute girl without getting caught” are all present in the story, co-written by Elena Conte and Pelayo De Lario (with the latter directing). What sets Jack apart is that Charlie is accompanied by an unconventional co-lead — the voice of his penis, named Jack (De Lario), who leads Charlie into his worst mistakes and generally comments on the events of the story.
“A story told by a penis” is the marketing pitch for Jack, but while watching the film, I was struck by how little Jack’s presence actually adds to the story. Much of Jack’s contribution is to add an additional layer of entendre, but it’s rarely additive to the work being done by the actors themselves. Look, it’s all well-tread ground here. We know Charlie is driven to do stupid stuff by his lust for Barbie; adding the voice of his penis to make it as explicit as possible doesn’t provide a new perspective into the mix. Having Jack say “I like Charlie, he gives me lots of love and we get along really well,” well … we see Charlie caught masturbating multiple times, so that’s pretty clear.
Despite the weak implementation of the central conceit, this is an otherwise competent and charming take on the sex-comedy template. The more interesting addition is the character of Mr. Hand (Luis Mottola), a guidance counselor whose sheer sexual aura even arouses Charlie. That element of implied fluidity to Charlie’s character is a welcome change of pace in a genre that often leans heavily into traditional gender roles. Not much is really done with it, and everything defaults by the end, but it’s welcome nonetheless.
The strongest piece of Jack is Rollason as Charlie, who plays the character with a gangly physicality that feels authentic to his age. Rollason’s facial expressions are cartoonish in just the right fashion — almost slapstick in fact. Flashbacks to his younger days, face deformed by massive braces on this teeth, are pretty funny every time they pop up. For a film that doesn’t quite set itself apart with the interesting structural contrivance of a talking dick, Jack still manages to fall back on the most important element of this kind of thing — a funny, charming lead character with a journey you hope leads to a happy ending.