The Last Kiss
If it’s true that, for women, 60 is the new 40, must it follow that, for men, 30 is the new 10? That’s the emotional math at work in The Last Kiss, an alarming male wallow passing as a fetching date-night dramedy in which four men entering their fourth decade — friends since childhood — respond with lunkheaded awfulness to the mysteries of women, each in his own lunkish way.
Michael (Zach Braff), on whose good-guy appeal the whole movie hinges, is rattled enough by the unexpected pregnancy of his longtime girlfriend, Jenna (Jacinda Barrett), to be tempted by a college-age spitfire (Rachel Bilson) who simultaneously bites her lip, twists her hands girlishly, and comes on to him as forcefully as Catherine Zeta-Jones on the red carpet. Chris (Casey Affleck) makes it clear he can’t stand his exhausted wife or their infant son for reasons never explained except that she nags at him, maybe because he seems to spend more time with the gang than at home, sharing in the joy of diapers. Hysteria-prone doofus Izzy (Michael Weston from Braff’s Garden State) can’t believe that his icy girlfriend (Marley Shelton) dumped him, and he continues to pine/whine for her, loudly. Kenny (Dumb and Dumberer‘s Eric Christian Olsen), who enjoys life as a freelance swordsman, freaks when the hot babe he’s been fooling around with wants to introduce him to her parents. The horror!
To be fair, this porelessly photogenic ensemble, under the direction of Tony Goldwyn (Someone Like You) and working from a script by Crash screenplay Oscar winner Paul Haggis, adds little that wasn’t already available for American retrofitting in Gabriele Muccino’s 2001 Italian trifle, L’Ultimo Bacio, also released in the U.S. in 2002 as The Last Kiss: same pregnancy crisis, same temptation from a younger woman. And in both films, representatives of an older generation enact marital crises born of staleness, too. (Here, the middle-aged malcontents are Jenna’s parents, with Tom Wilkinson playing to In the Bedroom type as an inexpressive hubby while Blythe Danner shoots sparklers of angry energy as an aging beauty hungering to be desired.)
But the sense of petulant, self-actualized entitlement brought to this Last Kiss is the remake’s very special, curdled contribution to pop culture and to roles for high-profile Gen-X actors. The implied public service announcement — that pregnancy is a useful time for a couple pushing 30 to grow the hell up — might be more palatable if the movie didn’t simultaneously suggest that life always works out just fine for all characters as well costumed and lit as this lot. While Braff, complemented by Barrett’s dignified performance, does as much as the setup allows to demonstrate the payoff of acting one’s age rather than one’s shoe size, way too much of the movie is pitched to the doofus/Izzy demographic. Evidently, movie marketers feel safest planting sloppy, tolerant kisses on the heads of moviegoers coddled like a bunch of big babies.