Paul Haggis, based on a screenplay by Gabriele Muccino, directed by Tony Goldwyn, and with Zach Braff, Jacinda Barrett, Rachel Bilson, Tom Wilkinson, Blythe Danner, Casey Affleck, Michael Weston, Eric Christian Olsen, Harold Ramis"/>
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With: Zach Braff, Jacinda Barrett, Rachel Bilson, Tom Wilkinson, Blythe Danner, Casey Affleck, Michael Weston, Eric Christian Olsen, Harold Ramis
Written by: Paul Haggis, based on a screenplay by Gabriele Muccino
Directed by: Tony Goldwyn
MPAA Rating: R for sexuality, nudity and language
Running Time: 105
Date: 09/10/2006
IMDB

The Last Kiss (2006)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Vanity Affair

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Although Tony Goldwyn and Paul Haggis's The Last Kiss is about the 4000th remake of the past few years, this one actually has a little something to say about the trend. Most remakes are based on the idea that juveniles buy the most tickets; since they're young, they theoretically don't know anything about older (or foreign) movies and hence we can sell them the same stories over and over again. But The Last Kiss actually takes on juvenility as a subject.

Zach Braff plays Michael, an architect on the verge of 30. Michael has dated Jenna (Jacinda Barrett) for years, and now she's pregnant, though they've never bothered to get married. Michael informs us that, although his life has gone as planned and he has no complaints, he has begun to feel trapped, as if there were no more excitement waiting for him. After attending a wedding, Michael's best friends Chris (Casey Affleck), Izzy (Michael Weston) and Kenny (Eric Christian Olsen) begin tentatively talking about an exotic trip together, to find adventure and seek their true selves. But Michael finds a more immediate distraction: Kim (Rachel Bilson).

The Last Kiss is based on a 2001 Italian film written and directed by Gabriele Muccino. The original is no masterpiece, but it's a tightly-constructed, organic melodrama and a serious emotional roller-coaster ride. In his new screenplay, Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby and Crash) achieves something of a slavish, point-for-point adaptation. It does not take into account that American characters check their feelings and regularly withdraw their fears and desires. So when someone lashes out, it seems out of character, a sudden leap from stoic to frantic.

Sadly, for a movie about growing up, the grownups fare the worst of all. Jenna's mom Anna (Blythe Danner) goes through her own little crisis, leaving her husband -- somber, intellectual Stephen (Tom Wilkinson) -- because, in his analytical way, he doesn't pay enough romantic attention to her. Wilkinson can't figure out how to humanize his psychiatrist character enough to prove her wrong, and Danner merely comes off as hysterical.

Director Goldwyn (an actor in Ghost and The Last Samurai), is pretty good at directing this type of melodramatic soap opera (i.e. A Walk on the Moon), even if he usually fails to smooth the rough edges. But rough edges aside, The Last Kiss still has a lot to admire.

Note: Please also see my much longer review at cinematical.com

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