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The Last Kiss Review

Published September 14, 2006 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Paramount.
The Last Kiss Poster The Last Kiss
Oh, adultery is so cute. It’s just wonderful when people question their relationships and use an affair to gain clarity. Because that’s usually what happens when you screw around. Total nirvana.

The Last Kiss is one of those. A bunch of couples at different crossroads in their lives experience the problems of relationships in their own unique and quirky ways. There’s parents to be Michael (Zach Braff) and Jenna (Jacinda Barrett). This impending birth provokes Michael’s confusion over how his entire life seems planned out with no surprises. There’s Jenna’s parents (Blythe Danner and Tom Wilkinson) whose 30 year marriage is falling apart because he makes too many jokes.

The Last Kiss Review

There’s Chris (Casey Affleck) who has a baby but his wife treats him like sh*t. So what if he can’t change a diaper? There’s Michael Weston who’s so enamored with his high school sweetheart that he just can’t let her break up with him, so he wants to go to South America. And of course, lovable ladies man Kenny (Eric Christian Olsen) has lots of uncommitted sex, so he wants to join the southern adventure.

The problem with all of these stories is they all think they’re so important. They all think they’re revealing great truths about life. There may be some universal observations in some of them, but it all comes down to this specific group of A-holes. It ain’t no American Beauty.

Let’s start with the big stars. Michael and Jenna. Yeah, it really sucks to have a plan and be responsible. You should totally just do whatever your life. It’ll be spontaneous! This really is a fine Jacinda Barrett vehicle because her character is just the victim in all this. She gets to act the full range of emotions.

Ah, mom and dad. Okay, maybe it’s insensitive for dad to keep cracking jokes when she’s trying to bare her soul. Be a little more attentive. Is this whole subplot really just about wanting more oomph in a 30 year old marriage? No, they’re mainly props to deal with Michael and Jenna’s relationship. What kind of father he is to excuse Michael, in even the most backhanded way, is beyond me. You hurt my daughter and I sick the wolves on you.

There’s definite truth in the husband who just can’t find a place in his stressed out wife’s world anymore. Lesser things than having kids can do that to a person. Affleck’s is the most even story.

The high school love was painfully real. It’s hard watching people change their minds. But then it’s all about the South America trip as if it’s some big life event. What the hell is in South America that’s so different? Are we supposed to root for guys to run away from their problems? Guess it’s better than listening to these idiots talk about feelings too banal for even an Ed Burns movie.

Kenny’s story did not go the way I expected. It seemed like he was going to find the perfect mate in a kindred free spirit. It seemed like he may have some sort of moral voice for the group. But no, he just tags along on the road trip.

The actors are perfectly fine. Blythe Danner classes up the standard lonely wife material she’s given. Tom Wilkinson makes the oblivious A-hole kind of likeable. Jacinda Barrett is totally lovable and it’s heartbreaking to see her destroyed. Casey Affleck is sympathetic and all Zach Braff has to do is be confused. That’s kind of his thing now.
Rachel Bilson is totally seductive even though the script casts her as a generic party girl. The changes from mature vixen to little girl are very real. You may be hearing a lot about this girl. Apparently she’s on some show about obsessive compulsives.

The soundtrack is great and may be the saving grace of the film. The songs mean nothing to the film, just random moments of music when nobody’s talking, but it’ll be a great album. There’s no score otherwise, and you’re listening to the life sounds. There’s too much silence, not because it’s uncomfortable, but because the story is so pretentious you just want to hear something other than these people talking.

I just wanted one person to tell one character in this film, “So what? So what if you have no surprises? Like you deserve some. So what if you lost your first love? Like this is the first time that’s ever happened. So what if you’re a bored old couple? Like you were such interesting people 30 years ago.”

What makes relationship movies like American Beauty or About a Boy great is that people do interesting things, whether you like them for it or not. You can deal with adultery, or single parenthood, or teenage rebellion if you have a take on it, or even if you just feel fun. If you’re just complaining, we can get that for free.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Paramount.

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