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The Last Kiss (2006)
Paramount Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 4/14/2009
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/7/2009
While movies are fiction, dramas, especially independent dramas, like to
present a realistic portrayal of the world. They often feature real locations
and the characters have real-sounding jobs and quasi-realistic conversations.
These films are often referred to as "slice of life" movies. But, being movies,
something has to be exaggerated, and this element is usually the relationships
between the characters. And rarely have I seen a film where the relationships
are as exaggerated or depressing as they are in The Last Kiss.
The Last Kiss follows the lives of several couples and friends. Michael (Zach Braff) and Jenna (Jacinda Barrett) have been together for several years, and they've just learned that Jenna is pregnant. And yet, they aren't ready to get married. Jenna's parents, Stephen (Tom Wilkinson) and Anna (Blythe Danner), are seemingly happy together. Chris (Casey Affleck) and his wife Lisa (Lauren Lee Smith) are struggling to balance their lives with their infant child. Izzy (Michael Weston) is devastated as he's recently been dumped by Arriana (Marley Shelton). Bartender Kenny (Eric Christian Olsen) is the only single (by choice) person in the group, and he beds a new woman every night.
At the film's outset, the group of friends attend a wedding. There, Michael meets local college student Kim (Rachel Bilson) and strikes up a seemingly innocent conversation. Except, Kim isn't shy and she doesn't hide the fact that she's coming onto Michael. Following this, Jenna begins talking about marriage, leading Michael to have thoughts about the finality of matrimony. These thoughts lead him back to Kim. Meanwhile, Anna decides that she can't take leaving with Stephen any longer. The tension between Chris and Lisa begins to reach a boiling point. One of Kenny's one-night-stands wants to get serious. And Izzy's depression only gets deeper. As everyone around him is falling apart, Michael convinces himself that as he's going to spend the rest of his life with Jenna, he should do something with Kim.
I hate to sound incredibly judgmental and harsh (but I am a critic after all), but I can't believe that this film received the green light. For starters, we've seen this story before, and I'm not even talking about the fact that The Last Kiss is a remake of an Italian film. Beyond that, the movie is reminiscent of films like The Four Seasons, Grand Canyon, and any number of Woody Allen films. The mid-life crises and the young man panicking about commitment are old and hackneyed premises and The Last Kiss does nothing at all to try and make these stories new. Screenwriter Paul Haggis was able to put a new spin on old ideas with his previous works Crash and Million Dollar Baby, but nearly everything here feels clichéd and predictable.
My other big problem with The Last Kiss is the extreme nature of the relationships in the movie. Yes, there can’t be drama without drama, but this movie takes things too far. We often hear the statistic that 50% of marriages end in divorce, so we can extrapolate that to assume that half of relationships aren’t good. But, ALL of the relationships in this film suffer from major problems. According to director Tony Goldwyn, the newlywed couple at the wedding are supposed to be the happy couple in the film...but we never see them again! The fact that everyone in this movie is miserable makes it difficult to take the film seriously. Every story needs a sense of balance at some point and this movie leans too far into its negative view of committed relationships. Are there people out there who fight, who are unhappy, and who cheat? Of course there are. But, there are also happy couples as well. This movie need a couple which was at least semi-happy for the audience to grasp onto and, from a narrative perspective, for the other characters to envy.
I've yet to decide if the casting of Zach Braff was a stroke of genius or a huge mistake. Those of us who know him from
Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long