AT THE MOVIES
Kim (Rachel Bilson) and Michael (Zach Braff) struggle to adapt to adulthood in "The Last Kiss."
‘Kiss’ is for kids
Depending on where you're at in life, "The Last Kiss" will either seem deep and illuminating, or petty, indulgent and deeply annoying. Are you a 20-something getting the heebie-jeebies about the direction life takes you? Or are you somebody who's had a relationship that's lasted longer than a summer crush?
'The Last Kiss'
Opens Friday in theaters
This movie examines the gray zone betwixt settling down and simply settling. It's either one of the best date movies of all time -- Feelings! Miscommunication! Hunky guys and girls! -- or one of the worst. Relationships are difficult, require labor and sacrifice and even then are largely doomed to failure. I wonder how many single people will watch this at home alone on DVD and heave a sigh of relief?
Sigh. The four young men at the heart of this movie -- all self-involved jackasses whose ears you wish to reach up on the screen and box soundly -- are turning 30 and realize they need something more out of life. Time's a-wastin'. Those adorable, smart, pretty, funny women they're living with? What if there's a better girl over the next hill? It's all about me, me, me.
This could be funny, and there are funny moments, particularly involving Zach Braff as the central character, whose face is a road map of second thoughts, ennui, vacillation and all points in between. The woman with whom he's having a baby (Jacinda Barrett, apple-pie yummy) is, all agree in the film, so perfect a women she's "almost a guy." Naturally, this leads Braff to dally with a younger girl (Rachel Bilson, almost a dead ringer for Barrett) so young, in fact, she's only a junior in flautist school. (I'm not making this up.)
There ensues a roundelay of missed cellphone calls, kisses in the rain, somebody's parent dying right on cue to force a conclusion onto Act Two, occasional sweaty nakedness, an ominous wedding that includes gloweringly gray skies and a treehouse one can sit in and wave goodbye to childhood from. Oh, yeah, while the sun sets.
Like a horror movie, theatergoers will feel compelled to talk to the screen. "Don't you go there!" "Don't you kiss her!" "Turn on your cellphone!" "Don't you listen to those party mix-tape, fool, that way leads to anomie!"
Tom Wilkerson and Blythe Danner play a old married couple with unresolved issues of their own, and do so with a certain amount of dramatic gravitas that only older, experienced actors can dredge up, which is good because their "problems" seem ridiculously petty, small enough to be solved with a couple of beers and arm-wrestling. Danner, lovely as she is, is supposed to be playing someone around 50 here. Is that what marriage does to you?
It's all so solemn and thoughtful and serious and well-acted and filmed. Many younger people will likely think it's the greatest, "real-est" film they've ever seen, because it explores the emotional fallout caused by the relationship between men and women. Sorry, kids, you can't live with it, and you can't live without it. Deal.
I'm having fun at the film's expense, and it's well-made and dramatically challenging and all, but it sets itself up as such a big, fat, self-important, narcissistic target.
See it with someone you want to break up with.