No Sparks

by Alan Rapp on September 15, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Last Kiss
  • IMDb: link

the-last-kiss-posterWe get the likable Zach Braff in an unlikable role.  We get the writer of Crash and Million Dollar Baby doing a by-the-numbers romantic dramedy.  And we get the director of The Last Samurai to put it all together?  These are all talented people, but I just have to wonder how they all got involved in such an unlikely run-of-the-mill Hollywood project.

Michael (Zach Braff) is about to turn 30.  He is in love with his fiance Jenna (Jacinda Barrett), who is carrying his child, but he just isn’t happy.  Call it cold feet or doubts, but Michael sees his life mapped out, and has he says “there’s no more surprises.”

At a friend’s wedding, Michael meets Kim (Rachel Bilson) who, for reasons that are never explained or explored, is immediately taken with Michael and starts to come on to him, in the way that beautiful women do to average guys only in films, despite the fact he explains he is involved with another woman.  This new temptation for Michael may be his last surprise, or his last chance to break-out and seize passion.  Will he be tempted, and if so what consequences will befall such a choice?

I don’t need to tell you how the film ends, or which woman Michael chooses.  Unless you’ve never seen a by-the-book Hollywood romantic comedy you already know.

One of the problems however is when we are introduced to Michael and Jenna we see love, but no passion, no spark.  They could be best friends perhaps, or even brother and sister, by why are they getting married?  Whether it’s just on-screen chemistry or poor writing, Braff and Bilson work much better than Braff does with the woman his character supposedly loves.

There are other subplots involving Michael’s friends, and Jenna’s parents (Blythe Danner, Tom Wilkinson), who all have their own emotional problems.  There’s Chris (Casey Affleck) who is involved in a loveless destructive marriage only for the sake of his small son.  There’s Kenny (Eric Christian Olsen) who loves women but not relationships, and finally a poor friend (Micahel Weston) who’s so obsessed with a woman that no longer wants him he spends the entire film moping.

None of these stories are very interesting, by themselves or together.  Braff’s first big role since Garden State would inevitably get comparisions, and this one just doesn’t measure up.  Where Braff’s film had a unique voice and style and a very delicate relationship, this just seems to be regurgitated Hollywood romantic slop.

From my comments so far you may think I hated the film.  Not true.  Despite the fact that the film never comes together there are several small pieces and performances that work well, just not quite enough to carry the film.  Braff knows just the right notes to hit with this character and Danner and Wilkinson each give a nice nod in small but important supporting performances.  The real thrill of the movie is Rachel Bilson who steals every moment of the film in which she appears; too bad her part wasn’t larger.

Despite some nice performances and some enjoyable moments, The Last Kiss is a trainwreck.  I can’t quite bring myself to recommend it but if you’re gotten nothing else to do on a lazy weekend then I guess you could spend your time in worse pursuits.  But if you want to see a much better love story with some of the same actors I’d suggest picking up Garden State on DVD (read that review here).

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