Most significantly, Jonathan straddles two storylines that are never reconciled as clearly as writer/director Thomas Baldinger seems to have intended. The eponymous Jenna (Tracey Birdsall) is both Jonathan’s new love interest and his boss’ sister-in-law, yet none of the potential conflicts this could present for all three characters are addressed until well into the film’s second half. In an unexpected decision, the relationship between Jonathan and the boss, Joe (Garry Pastore), receives the most attention; I don’t recall the latter even sharing a scene with Jenna. Although using traits such as outright racism and homophobia to subsequently cast Joe as an antagonist feels unsubtle, there’s no inherent problem with this. However, drawing the audience’s attention to a pre-existing character dynamic and not resolving it is a glaring Chekhov’s gun waiting to be fired. Similarly, there’s a recurring joke about Jenna resembling a famous porn actress which doesn’t pay off despite Baldinger granting it substantial explanation and emphasis. An actual porn actress cameos as herself briefly, and once again WHO’S JENNA? fails to take advantage of its own setup by simply having its title character appearing onscreen with her.
By contrast, the film dedicates time to providing detail where it isn’t necessary. For instance, the opening sequence depicts Jonathan’s parents en route to the hospital for his birth, as well as revealing that their neighbours are expecting a child at the same time. While the dialogue and interactions between the two couples are hilarious, they don’t complement the main plot enough to justify the sequence’s existence. The neighbours’ son Andy (Joseph D’Onofrio) grows up to be Jonathan’s best friend, yet the fact that they share a birthday or even were childhood neighbours is never mentioned; likewise, their parents are never seen nor heard from during the present-day scenes. Meanwhile, after Joe blackmails Jonathan into closing their company’s account for a client named Kevin Steele (Michael Tota), the otherwise insignificant Steele is essentially given his own subplot. Thankfully, he’s an irreverent porn actor, which does offer some variety to the film’s humour, including an absurd sight gag that I won’t spoil.
There are at least three plot threads from WHO’S JENNA? that were engaging enough to warrant a more sustained focus, and it’s a testament to the acting that I believe doing so would be entertaining with any combination of the major characters. A tendency to mismanage time throughout the film limits each of these ideas’ scopes and resembles a proof of concept, but nevertheless, the strengths largely outweigh the weaknesses.