Selfishness Takes Center Stage in "The Last Kiss"
- Christa Banister Contributing Writer
- 2006 9 Sep
Release Date: September 15, 2006
Rating: R (language, sexual content and nudity)
Run Time: 115 min.
Director: Tony Goldwyn
Actors: Zach Braff, Jacinda Barrett, Rachel Bilson, Eric Christian Olsen, Casey Affleck, Blythe Danner, Tom Wilkinson, Michael Weston
Sure, it’s got the same hipster-friendly soundtrack featuring the likes of Snow Patrol and Coldplay and Zach Braff as the almost 30-year-old guy who’s a little confused about life, love and his future. But aside from that, there’s where the similarities end between “The Last Kiss” and Braff’s beloved last film “Garden State.”
See, the thing about “Garden State” was despite the characters’ obvious flaws, there was actually some humor and heart buried beneath all the pseudo angst.
However, that’s hardly the case with “The Last Kiss” as what are supposed to be “real” and “gritty” portrayals of modern relationship woes come off as nothing more than the rotten fruit that results when people only focus on themselves. And if the one-dimensional, whiny characters weren’t bad enough, there’s the horrendous dialogue that’s as clunky as most 16-year-olds’ first car. While I know I’m supposed to be blown away by Kim’s (Rachel Bilson) declaration that “The world is moving so fast now that we start freaking long before our parents did because we don't ever stop to breathe anymore,” I can’t help but chuckle at the cheesiness of it because the worst problems these people have is taking responsibility for the poor choices they’ve already made.
Case in point: Michael (Braff). He’s a successful architect with the perfect (his words, not mine) live-in girlfriend, Jenna (Jacinda Barrett). But when she unexpectedly winds up pregnant, well, Michael freaks out big time. Is this the life he really wants? The one where “there’s no surprises anymore?” Oh no, guess he better see what (and who) else is out there. And before you can blink, the much-younger, free-spirited Kim introduces herself to him.
And for reasons I’m still not quite sure of as Michael doesn’t exactly possess those instantly attractive personality traits (or even the more shallow, movie-star good looks), Kim falls for him instantly and isn’t shy about it. But instead of telling her to take a hike like he probably should, he takes her number, knowing full well it isn’t the right thing to do.
Meanwhile, his immature buddies aren’t much better off in their rather undeveloped plotlines. Chris (Casey Affleck) can’t decide whether to leave his nagging wife and cute baby boy, while Kenny (Eric Christian Olsen) doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of any relationship more serious than an afternoon of casual sex. In fact, after he sleeps with an attractive girl he met at a wedding several times, he bolts at the mention of meeting her parents. Gotta love maturity like that.
And just to make things more melodramatic, Jenna’s parents Anna (Blythe Danner) and Stephen (Tom Wilkinson) are having marital troubles of their own. While their scenes are definitely well-acted and more convincing than anything else in the movie, it’s heart-wrenching to see how callously they treat one other, especially when Anna reveals she’s had an affair and moves out.
By the time you’ve suffered through all of that, you ultimately don’t really care what’s happening with Michael, Jenna and Kim anymore. Basically, you just want these people to get over themselves and to leave the theater as quickly as possible. But unfortunately “The Last Kiss” drones on and on without any relief in sight.
As someone inching in on my first wedding anniversary, the story did remind me of a few important things, though. It reinforced how selfish behavior never contributes to a healthy relationship and how incredibly thankful I am that my husband Will and I have God with us on our wedded journey. Because without Him, it would be much easier to fall into the same traps these characters have. And who wants that?
AUDIENCE: Adults only
- Alcohol/Smoking: There are several scenes, particularly at the wedding, where alcohol is consumed. Michael decides “how wasted he wants to be” while talking with Kim at the wedding. A couple of characters are shown smoking.
- Language/Profanity: There’s plenty of salty language throughout including several uses of the “f” word, crass discussion of sex and incidents of the Lord’s name taken in vain.
- Sex/Nudity: Before I get into the specifics, viewers should be warned that there’s more gratuitous sex and nudity in this movie than I’ve seen in a R-rated flick for a while. During the bachelor party, two female strippers are shown kissing and fondling each other while naked (breasts are shown). When he’s not discussing “getting laid,” Kenny is shown having sex with a woman he met at the wedding on two different occasions (the scenes are pretty graphic, and bare bottoms and breasts are shown). Michael and Kim have a one-night stand. Izzy’s ex-girlfriend is shown getting dressed after sleeping with her new boyfriend.
- Violence: For shock value during an argument, Jenna waves a large knife at Michael.