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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12.77%
Worth A Look31.91%
Average: 27.66%
Pretty Bad: 6.38%
Total Crap: 21.28%

4 reviews, 23 user ratings

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Kissing Jessica Stein
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by Natasha Theobald

"A pleasant diversion"
3 stars

This is a romantic comedy about being open to possibility, about a willingness to replace something that's not working with something else that just might. Girls have always known they might have to kiss a few toads on the rocky road of romance. These girls decide they've had enough with toads and try kissing each other instead.

Jessica (Jennifer Westfeldt) is a copy editor at the Tribune. She is a little meek, a little neurotic, and very much a perfectionist. The guys she is finding just don't live up to her high standards. They are not articulate, they are not generous, they are not smart, and they are not funny. What's a girl to do? Jessica decides to answer a literate personals ad written by a woman seeking the companionship of another woman. This is how she meets Helen (Heather Juergensen).

Helen, an assistant director of an art gallery, is very different from Jessica. She is bold and fearless and open to everything. Jessica is precisely the kind of girl Helen had in mind, so Helen does her best to keep Jessica on their first date. They talk and laugh and become fast friends. What doesn't happen so fast is the more-than-friends stuff. Helen tries to be very patient and ease Jessica into a sexual relationship, but Jessica's natural instinct is to balk.

After some assorted dating silliness, the women end up in Jessica's childhood bedroom for the night, with a storm brewing outside, and, though we don't see it, their relationship seems to move forward. Jessica's parents like Helen well enough, but the couple is not out to anyone, particularly not anyone in Jessica's life. As more time goes by, this becomes a bigger problem. Helen is unwilling to continue if Jessica cannot own the relationship. Can Jessica accept love in the way it has chosen to find her?

Thrown into the mix is Jessica's former boyfriend and current boss, Josh Meyers (Scott Cohen). The changes in Jessica begin to spark changes for him, as well. Added to this, his jealousy at seeing her happy catches him a little off guard. If relationships are about timing, has his time come and gone?

The movie is filled with intelligent conversations between urbane, educated characters. There are lots of books strewn about that people have probably actually read. They are all funny and charming and interesting people, if you were sitting and talking with them. The problem is just that they have no real bang for the big screen. Everyone is so poised and perfect that it's hard to get a good laugh going. Something volcanic is missing.

The performances are good. Juergensen and Westfeldt are smart and sweet in their roles. I really enjoyed Scott Cohen as Josh. Though what happens to his character seems a little odd or unreal, he is immensely likable (even when he's not being nice) and a welcome addition to any scene. Also worth noting is the performance of Tovah Feldshuh as Jessica's mother. She sounds like just about any mother you hear talking to any grown child anywhere. She has one memorable moment that shows how good mothers are at cutting to the chase of things. It is tender and real and exceedingly well done.

The music was absolutely wonderful, by the way, and it was wittily used to elucidate the action. If there is a soundtrack, I will be putting it on my wish list.

The movie was cute and fun and lighter than air, with lots of smiles and a couple of laughs. All in all, it was a pleasant diversion.

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originally posted: 01/05/03 04:07:04
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User Comments

5/10/06 Indrid Cold I agree that the characters are fundamentally unappealing, but it's still sharp and funny. 4 stars
3/30/06 A.C. I think men who don't get women, dont' like (get) this movie. Its fantastic on every level. 5 stars
1/18/06 Deanna Sexual identity roulette as boredom cure. Insulting on all levels 1 stars
12/21/04 Bea delightfull,sharply written and good performances despite actress are "unknown" 4 stars
2/10/04 Josh Sharply written, very funny, the best rom-com in ages. 4 stars
12/21/03 Monster W. Kung A pathetic excuse for a movie that's as deep and thought-provoking as a porno film. 1 stars
8/01/03 LeoH Bright, funny romantic comedy. 4 stars
5/17/03 Plagarism is a curse Startlingly similar review to Dave Elliot of San Diego Union Tribune. Esp. para 8 3 stars
4/12/03 Dra_KW This one is a big effort to make a good movie: romantic, funny, spicy and 2 beautiful girls 5 stars
1/07/03 A normal average person An ordinary sitcom that plays the fashionable lesbian card and is insulting to men 2 stars
12/23/02 Jim Amusing, main character annoying but supporting ones interesting 4 stars
9/27/02 The Bomb 69 handled the whole ending correctly, dealt with real issues and was funny as well 4 stars
9/23/02 marco guerra guys,you are wrong again. good movies are different;did you even watch it? Soberly? 2 stars
9/19/02 YeahThat'sRightYouKnowWhatI'mTalkingAbout Boring. Uninteresting, and very droll, cardboard characters. Jim's right. This one sucks 1 stars
9/17/02 beryl firestone LOVED IT!!! 5 stars
5/13/02 Elsie Dee A fun little movie. Nothing deep or heavy, and better than romance-comedies tend to be. 4 stars
4/13/02 Suzz a genuinely funny romantic comedy 4 stars
4/10/02 IP Freely Isn't this just another Meg Ryan romantic comedy w/ a different star...boring 1 stars
4/07/02 Jessica Moorleghen transcends gender roles to reveal the true awkwardness of knowing someone intimately 4 stars
4/02/02 Otis Buckshot This is a wonderful movie, light, funny, emotional, & also very real in todays world 5 stars
3/31/02 KCobain This movie is the bomb. Funny and touching. 5 stars
3/26/02 Jake Yeah, well I have seen it and it kicks ass. 5 stars
3/19/02 autumn yeah whoa i havent seen it 2 stars
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  13-Mar-2002 (R)



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