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The Last Kiss (R)





Release Date: September 15th, 2006 by Paramount Pictures.
The Cast: Zach Braff, Jacinda Barrett, Rachel Bilson, Casey Affleck, Michael Weston, Eric Christian Olsen, Blythe Danner, Tom Wilkinson, Lauren Lee Smith, Cindy Sampson, Harold Ramis, Marley Shelton.
Directed by Tony Goldwyn.

BASIC PREMISE: When Michael (Braff) meets Kim (Bilson), a college student, during a midlife crisis, their secret affair threatens his relationship with his pregnant girlfriend, Jenna (Barrett). An adaptation of 2001's L'Ultimo Baccio by director Gabriele Muccino.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: For the most part, The Last Kiss has a well-written script with convincing performances. Michael and Jenna actually seem like a couple that has been together for a long time, but go through a rough patch in their relationship. At a wedding, Michael meets Kim and canít resist her genuine beauty and seductive charm. She knows that he has a girlfriend, yet that doesnít stop her from coming onto him in more ways than one. As Michael yields to temptation, he confides his best friends, Izzy (Weston), Chris (Affleck), and Kenny (Olsen), each of whom have their own relationship problems with women. Izzyís childhood girlfriend (Shelton) dumps him, Kenny canít commit to a more serious relationship when his sex-crazed girlfriend (Sampson) introduces him to her parents. Finally, Chris feels sick of wife (Smith) treating him like a pathetic loser. To complicate matters, Jennaís mother (Danner) confesses to her husband that she had an affair. What this film truly needs is at least one functional because when all of them donít in this case, it feels a bit contrived and exaggerated. Zach Braff gives a decent performance as Michael, who goes through a midlife crises which feels vaguely similar to Braffís character in Garden State. As expected, Tom Wilkinson and Blythe Danner give powerful performances. Director Tony Goldwyn moves the pace along briskly and includes some well-chosen songs on the soundtrack. He also does a great job of filming the erotic sex scenes without going overboard with the eroticism. The script by Paul Haggis has mostly complex characters that have both strengths and weaknesses. Not all of the characters, such as Jenna, are developed fully enough. Itís strange that she has no friends to turn to when she finds out about Michaelís affair. More background information about her would have helped. Also, Michaelís parents never show up at any point. On a positive note, Haggis smoothly alternates between comic and dramatic scenes. However, the third act goes a bit over-the-top to drive the point that Michael truly loves Jenna.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Jennaís father gives Michael very insightful advice when he tells him that what truly matters is not whether or not he loves Jenna but how he shows his love toward her. Anyone can just say ďI love youĒ, but actually living up to those words in the practical sense seems to be Michaelís greatest challenge. Michaelís affair is in many ways a way of him showing hesitation, which makes you wonder whether or not sheís the true love of his life. Jenna hasnít made the same mistakes and, unfortunately, itís not clear what mistakes make her imperfect. Nonetheless, as the Robin Williams character stated wisely in Good Will Hunting, itís not about whether or not two people perfect, but whether or not they are perfect for each other. Sadly, itís difficult to come to that conclusion in this case.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Occasionally contrived and exaggerated.

NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 2

IN A NUTSHELL: Great performances and insightful, but occasionally contrived and exaggerated.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (2nd Run)


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