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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.63%
Worth A Look57.89%
Average: 18.42%
Pretty Bad: 5.26%
Total Crap: 15.79%

4 reviews, 14 user ratings

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Last Kiss, The (2006)
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by Erik Childress

"My Only Advice To You Is 'Go Back'"
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: “When are you going to get married?” is probably the most oft-asked question posed to single people and likely in the top three posed directly by married couples themselves. The single guy is usually portrayed as the one having all the fun while secretly desiring the life of babies, missionary sex once a month and never seeing their friends again. This is a myth written by and perpetrated by married men. Not that both lifestyles don’t have their advantages, but coupling will always require more work and it can lead to scary forks in the road at a time when the college days are about to be put to bed permanently and a third decade of a man’s life begins. Books will be written someday about the multitude of theories and failures of cinema to break through with the answers to all the questions one has at the age of 29. Some movies though, like The Last Kiss, while not having all the answers does get the questions right and the struggle for each man to ask them before it’s too late.

Michael (Zach Braff) is being thrust right into adulthood and it hasn’t completely sunk in yet. His girlfriend, Jenna (Jacinda Barrett) has just gotten pregnant and while he’s convinced he’s happy there’s a nagging undercurrent personified by the company he keeps. Chris (Casey Affleck) has had a baby and its turned his wife (Lauren Lee Smith) into a nagging shrew that has immasculated him to the point of barely being alive. Izzy (Michael Weston) has been dumped by the love of his life (Marley Shelton) and watched all his life plans disintegrate just as it should be beginning. And Kenny (Eric Christian Olsen) is the personification of the single lifestyle; a new woman every night and no regrets to speak of.

At a wedding Michael comes across college flirt, Kim (Rachel Bilson), who takes an instant liking to him. He’s guarded but internally mystified at this beautiful young girl (certainly not a woman) making it this easy for him. There hasn’t been a sure thing like this since Nicolette Sheridan in the mid-80s. She gives him her number whether he wants it or not and as Michael watches his friends go through their despairs and freedoms - that number becomes intriguing. In his heart he is committed to Jenna, but why has Kim come around at this most beguiling opportunity?

Chris Rock once said that a man is only as faithful as his options. So when a girl from the O.C. who once dressed up as Wonder Woman comes along and makes it clear that a phone call will get you laid, any guy will think about it. It may be for a second or for the rest of their lives, but life is nothing without its mistakes and regrets. Jenna’s parents can’t even give off the aura of a life spent of complete happiness. Her dad (Tom Wilkinson) would rather make snarky remarks than appease his wife’s (Blythe Danner in an award-worthy performance) hints for approval. Hindsight is 20/20 though and perspective is a necessary tool to understanding her frustration and his indifference as their relationship reveals its survival through their errors and not their successes.

Michael’s decision-making process is not going to win him any support from the feminist community, but The Last Kiss is about more than just the stupid actions of the primitive male psyche. Pressures smessures and all that jazz, but its not the chorus that defines the film’s viewpoint on what a commitment actually means. We are well beyond the idea that marriage is a sacred institution and closer to the days when such unions were an arrangement and not a romantic ideal. Michael makes just about every wrong choice possible, including ignoring the law which states that any girl who uses a purple pen to write down her phone number is probably not mature enough for you. All the choices he may have ever wanted for himself begin melting away despite being alternatives he probably never intended on acting on until he no longer had the option of making them. That’s the dilemma of marriage that most people are unwilling to accept. There may absolutely be love involved, but spontaneous romantics rarely last and those that think it through to the end are closer to the business-end of it than the emotional.

The Last Kiss makes for an interesting dating experience. I actually recommend bringing someone you’re really in love with to see it a second time just to watch the expressions change on other couples in the audience. Don’t go in expecting the emotional completeness of Braff’s generational masterwork, Garden State, but view it as the next evolvement. Braff’s Michael, no doubt, will be racking up the medicine cabinet that Andrew Largeman ditched, and may find his only solace in the fabulous soundtracks Braff helped compile for each film. Paul Haggis screenplay is an interesting concoction of turning a European comedy into an American drama with European sensibilities right up to an ending which on the surface feels like a grand romantic gesture but whose triumph opens up a door of far gloomier and irrevocable consequences. If Michael thought he was “trapped” before, he’s in for the rude awakening that the real trap was of his own making.

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originally posted: 09/16/06 01:50:41
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2006 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Boston Film Festival For more in the 2006 Boston Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/07/14 laYcOmvuIcgOOHrV dgSbKBMXVYbIGYdAPl 4 stars
4/23/08 Jack Sommersby Amusing, perceptive and not a little bit witty. Very good performances. 4 stars
9/25/07 Beau i found this very enjoyable, great drama and performance from jacinda barret!! 4 stars
3/20/07 John Small point, but at 29 a person is about to enter the fourth decade of their life. 4 stars
2/18/07 Nick P This is a very great movie, Zach Braff is an amazing actor, Garden State is the greatest!!! 5 stars
12/12/06 William Goss Despite few laughs, rambling melodrama about mopey men and their dissolving relationships. 3 stars
10/10/06 gina Good movie, very realistic. Great performances by Barret, Danner.Not really for escapists. 4 stars
10/08/06 Bob Good movie, decent review. 4 stars
10/06/06 Michael Coovert I love Zach Braff. I think he is brilliant in all of his performances; good movie 4 stars
9/28/06 Maureen When did it become socially acceptable for a 29 yr old man to act like a child? Grow up. 2 stars
9/21/06 Frank Characters need to grow up. 2 stars
9/20/06 Ancaster Film Fest Wanted a little more, but with Paul Haggis' script and fine actors it's a good film. 4 stars
9/20/06 Luisa Good acting, good soundtrack, realistic relationship situations 4 stars
9/18/06 JohnW Entrenching, thought-provoking. Story of infidelity with some subtle twists. 4 stars
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  15-Sep-2006 (R)
  DVD: 26-Dec-2006



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