The Last Kiss (2006)

Click Poster to Purchase

Get Showtimes...
Fandango - Movie Tickets Online

Review #247 of 365
Film: The Last Kiss (2006) [R] 115 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $8.00
Where Viewed: United Artists Denver Pavilions Stadium 15, Denver, CO
When 1st Seen: 15 September 2006
Time: 7:00 p.m.

Directed by: Tony Goldwyn--mostly known as an actor, Mr. Goldwyn also directed episodes of "Grey's Anatomy" and "Law & Order"
Written by: Paul Haggis—screen writer of Academy Award®-winning Crash
Basted On: Gabriele Muccino's motion picture L'ultimo bacio
Featured Cast (Where I Remember Him/Her From):
Zach Braff (Garden State & "Scrubs") • Jacinda Barrett (Poseidon) • Casey Affleck (Lonesome Jim) • Rachel Bilson ("The OC") • Michael Weston (The Dukes of Hazzard) • Blythe Danner (Meet the Fockers) • Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins) • Eric Christian Olsen (Beerfest & Cellular) • Lauren Lee Smith (Art School Confidential)

Soundtrack: Download now from Snow Patrol - The Last Kiss - or - order the CD below

Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word or less review of this film]
There was certainly a lot of exuberant anticipation going into this film. The excellent cast, a remake of a reportedly wonderful Italian film by Gabriele Muccino, and lots of great press for Zach Braff's Garden State would all build great hopes for his new film, The Last Kiss directed by the immensely talented actor Tony Goldwyn and using a screenplay written by Academy Award®-winning writer Paul Haggis. And, perhaps, that was the main problem with the film. Expectations were just too high to be met.

The film seems to be sold as the ultimate 'chick flick'—a gender biased label we've come to accept primarily because Hollywood panders to it; and, I'm guessing, because it has a nice ring to it. Upon further analysis guided by an actual viewing of the film, however, the story will play out, instead of like a romantic comedy, rather like 50 minutes of pure male bashing to men, even to ones hip to their estrogen-connected side or to ones that readily admit there are a fair number of sly devils, Peter Pans, complete bums, terrible louses, bad boys in leather jackets that will break your heart, skirt chasers, and football fans within the male gender pool; or, to the females drawn to the sales pitch, nearly 50 more minutes of all the awful things women can and do to drive men away. There are four best friends: Michael (Zach Braff), an aspiring architect who has been dating/living with Jenna (Jacinda Barrett) for three years; Chris (Casey Affleck) who works with Michael, is married to Lisa (Lauren Lee Smith), and tries to be the father to their new baby Matty; Izzy (Michael Weston) who cannot get over his high school girlfriend whom he dated for years and years until she finally dumped him for a guy she could actually count on; and Kenny (Eric Christian Olsen) the free spirit stud of the group who had planned to save the children of Africa but ended up tending bar and having his way with a different woman every night. The pointed story capably highlights the awful choices men and women can make in their relationships to the extreme. As for the men, from worst to best to worst: Kenny—well, he just seems to use women for the physical pleasure; Izzy—well, he doesn't know what he wants (probably true for all these four guys), and the only time he's prepared to commit is when his ex-girlfriend finally finds herself a new guy; Chris—well, no sooner do he and Lisa have baby Matty then does he realize that the baby is not going to make them closer as he hoped, instead it just quadruples the things he can do wrong in their relationship which Lisa will surely point out to him over and over again driving him crazy, so the best thing to do is run away to South America; and, finally, we have Michael, whom when he finds out that Jenna is pregnant, completely flips out, worrying there will be no more surprises in his life and that every page of his biography is now signed, sealed, and delivered, so the solution is to take a co-ed, Kim (Rachel Bilson) whom he meets at a wedding, to a frat party, lie to Jenna about his plans, kiss Kim seven times, tell the truth to Jenna after she disproves his lies, scurry back to Kim's bed, and then realize that he's probably too old for a girl that makes him feel ten years younger because she is after all nine years younger. At first, Jenna's father, Stephen (Tom Wilkinson), may seem like the only male character who gets away unscathed, yet let us not forget that he's been a boring, highly successful psychologist woefully unable to listen to his own wife Anna (Blythe Danner), and in response to Anna's posit that just once she'd like to be looked at by a man in a way that says, "You're the only one in the world I want", he is capable of innocently without realizing the implications of saying, "I look at you that way, I'm contractually obligated to do so." She of course, then hurls an expensive bottle of perfume at him that nearly nails him in the head hitting the wall just above instead and shattering glass and concentrated perfume all over the bed.

"...well written, well acted, nonetheless the story is completely without any joy or real redemption. Men and women are portrayed equally badly, and the meaning of long-term relationships seems all but worn out."
As for the women, other than Jenna's mom, we know a bit less. However, we do know that Jenna runs the script of their lives from getting married and having the baby to what they'll be doing in twenty years nearly non-stop. Conniving Kim may be a co-ed, but she knows only too well how to cast her seductive spell over 'poor', 'little', confused, Michael luring him into her web of the unknown, until she too reveals her cards of needs, demands, and expectations of him. And then there's Lisa. All she does is talk about how tired she is from dealing with baby Matty all day, how he's so fussy, and how he's so messy. She's always thrusting Matty into Chris's arms with a look and vocal inflection in her "Here you take him" that says to him, "You don't do anything to take care of OUR child, I spend every waking minute with him, and you just go off to work and have fun all day while I'm here slaving away with OUR baby." Or, conversely, she's wresting Matty from Chris's arms with a look and a vocal inflection her "Here I'll take him" that says to him, "You don't know the first thing about taking care of OUR child, you don't even know how to change his diaper, you're a useless father." Oh, and let's not forget Jenna's mother, Anna. At first seem may seem like the only female who gets away unscathed, yet let us not forget that she had an extensive affair with a college professor a few years back when she had decided there was no hope in trying to get a spark out of her marriage with Stephen.

These archetypal men represent just about the worst examples of males unable to commit to a family and relationship ever collected into the same movie. Meanwhile, the women exhibit every stereotypical behavior any man has ever used as an excuse to extend a business trip by one more day rather than return to face his family. The story portrays both genders very badly. No one in the film seems truly motivated by love. They seem more motivated to establish a perfect little family with anyone they can convince to join in the plan. They are willing to dump long-term commitment over a few arguments and switch to feeling sorry for themselves. None is willing to fight for the preservation of the relationship. While the final 25 minutes or so of the film seem sort of devoted to the make-ups of the various couples—not Kenny and Izzy who've become so disgruntled with women and convinced they need to be free spirits that they buy an RV and decide to take a long, male-bonding trip to South America—these scenes play out more like the writer trying to apologize to the males and females alike in the audience as if to say, "You can be terrible, but you do occasionally try to make good on your commitments to each other, so you're not all bad."

There is no question that the writing and the acting are top grade—though Zach Braff is probably a little less believable in his role than the others. He still just looks too young—not his fault. He's a guy who's over 30 but still looks like he's 24. This gives him great Hollywood longevity, but makes it harder to believe that he should be settling down with Jenna vs. fooling around with Kim. Ironically enough, Casey Affleck, whom I still think of as the little, scruffy brother of Ben Affleck in Good Will Hunting, has matured in a way that, while still looking young, he very much looks the age of his character. Unfortunately for those people who saw Lonesome Jim, you will join me in wondering if he can play anything other than a sullen, morose, soft-spoken, gloomy guy. Mr. Haggis has written some classic dialogue and witty, funny repartee to be sure. Still, the film lacks balance in its exploration of gender roles and partnering up for life. Are there any people capable of something closer to the storybook relationships? Or should USAers give up on the Puritanical notions of mating-for-life and until-death-do-us-part? Maybe all the fuss over same-gender marriage is futile when differently gendered marriages haven't proven all that successful in the first place. Maybe, instead, what is needed are 2-year domestic partnership agreements for any couple that need to be updated and reaffirmed at the end of each one with mandatory birth control / no adoption clauses until the couple has successfully renewed three consecutive agreements, at which time, once children become involved, the agreements would become 3-years in length and upon a non-renewal, would automatically become split 50/50 custody unless criminal activity was involved in the reasons for non-renewal.

In summary, The Last Kiss, is well written even if the story is stereotypically and archetypically based, and well acted. Nonetheless the story is completely without any joy or real redemption. Men and women are portrayed equally badly, and the meaning of long-term relationships seems all but worn out. And, so as that you do not feel I am mathematically, chronometrically challenged (50 minutes of what's wrong with men, 50 minutes of what's wrong with women do not add up to the film's 115-minute running time), I didn't indicate that the final 15 minutes of the film are devoted to Zach Braff's character, Michael, uncomfortably sprawled, sleeping in every conceivable position on the front porch through rain, starvation, freezing Wisconsin cold, severe dehydration, and seemingly no access to a bathroom all to prove he's worthy of Jenna—did I mention there was no joy in this movie?

Related Products from
Other Projects Featuring The Last Kiss (2006) Cast Members
Zach BraffJacinda BarrettCasey Affleck
Rachel BilsonMichael WestonBlythe Danner
Tom WilkinsonEric Christian OlsenLauren Lee Smith
Other Projects Featuring The Last Kiss (2006) Director
Tony Goldwyn
Other Projects Featuring The Last Kiss (2006) Writer
Paul Haggis
CD Soundtrack
Related DVD
Related VHS
Related DVD

The Last Kiss (2006) Review-lite [150-word cap]
While eagerly anticipated, Zach Braff's new film, The Last Kiss, directed by Tony Goldwyn using a screenplay by Academy Award®-winning Paul Haggis based on the Italian film by Gabriele Muccino, expectations were just too high. Pitched as the ultimate 'chick flick'—a gender biased label we've adopted because Hollywood panders to it, and it has a nice ring—the film screens not as a romantic comedy but, instead, as 100 minutes of all the awful things men and women do to drive each other away. The archetypal characters represent the worst examples of couples unable to commit ever assembled. Unquestionably good acting and writing—Haggis delivers classic dialogue and witty repartee—yet using a story without any joy. The missing 15 minutes of running time are Zach Braff sprawling on the front porch through rain, starvation, cold, and dehydration to prove he's worthy of his girl friend—did I mention there was no joy?

No comments: