The Last Kiss

2006, Movie, R, 115 mins

Review

LAST KISS, THE
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Actor-turned-director Tony Goldwyn's remake of the Italian comedy-drama L'ULTIMO BACIO (2002) chronicles the travails of four friends on the verge of turning 30 and panicked by the thought of accepting adult responsibilities. Architect Michael (Zach Braff, of TV's Scrubs) and graduate student Jenna (Jacinda Barrett) have been together for three years, and though Michael claims he wants to spend the rest of his life with her, Jenna has learned not to broach the subject of marriage. Her unexpected pregnancy sends him into fear-of-commitment overdrive, and when forward college student Kim (Rachel Bilson, of The O.C.) flirts with him at a wedding reception, his second thoughts about marriage and fatherhood propel him into a tentative affair that has devastating consequences. Michael's best friends, whom he's known since they were all children, are all having their own early midlife crises. Chris' (Casey Affleck) marriage to Lisa (Lauren Lee Smith) was on the rocks when they decided to have a baby, thinking parenthood would bring them closer together; instead, the pressures of child-rearing have driven a deeper wedge between them. Emotional basket-case Izzy (Michael Weston) always hated the family cheese business but dutifully took his place in it anyway; now his father is dying, his childhood sweetheart (Marley Shelton) has dumped him and he's obsessed with the idea of abandoning everything and hitting the open road. Bartender Kenny (Eric Christian Olsen) always made it a rule never to look further into the future than his next one-night stand, but starts to fall for sexy, no-strings-attached Danielle (Cindy Sampson). Unfortunately, she makes the mistake of introducing him to her folks, and he bolts. Even Jenna's parents, whose marriage has survived 30 years of life's ups and downs, are on the outs: Anna (Blythe Danner) feels her husband, therapist Stephen (Tom Wilkinson), takes her for granted, and leaves him, but not before dropping the bombshell that she had a serious affair three years earlier. Oscar winner Paul Haggis' screenplay hews closely to writer-director Gabriele Muccino's original (though he makes the Kim character older — her Italian counterpart is in high school), and Goldwyn strikes a similar balance between rueful comedy and flat-out melodrama. Braff's limitations as an actor are very much in evidence; his childish, eager-to-please mannerisms magnify Michael's flaws and make it hard to figure out what any woman — even a callow teenager — sees in him, while Affleck is exceptional as the conflicted Chris. But veterans Danner and Wilkinson effortlessly make Anna and Stephen more interesting than all the youngsters combined. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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