Casey Affleck, Michael Weston,
Eric Christian Olsen, Rachel Bilson, Blythe Danner, Tom Wilkinson
- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © Paramount Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
ver the past five years, Zach Braff has quickly developed into one of the most promising young talents in Hollywood. From his lead role on the NBC comedy “Scrubs" to his directorial debut, “Garden State,” the writer/director/actor seems capable of just about anything – including undertaking the role of music producer and launching the careers of his musician friends in his spare time. Of course, this also means that he's keeping very busy – so much so that for his latest film, “The Last Kiss,” the actor has chosen to do just that: act. Unfortunately, Braff is probably the weakest thing about the film, and though Paramount seems insistent on promoting it as a companion piece to his indie hit, it’s actually pretty far from it.
It seems the perfect life isn’t what it used to be, and though Michael (Braff) has a great job, a loving girlfriend, and a supportive group of childhood friends (including Casey Affleck and Michael Weston), he’s still unhappy. His girlfriend, Jenna (Jacinda Barrett), is three months pregnant, and though she's ready to take the next step in their lives by buying a house and getting married, Michael’s hesitant about making the plunge. When he catches the eye of a much younger girl (Rachel Bilson) at his friend’s wedding, however, Michael is forced to choose between love, lust and the last woman he’ll kiss.
Despite being the central focus of the film, the love triangle is actually the least interesting of all the storylines. Whether it’s the sudden separation of Jenna’s parents (Tom Wilkinson and Blythe Danner), the broken marriage between Chris (Affleck) and his wife, or Izzy’s (Weston) unspoken love for his dying father, the film’s subplots offer much richer life lessons than “cheating is bad," which is essentially what Braff’s side of the tale is all about. It’s also strange to see a 29-year-old professional sacrifice a relationship with his mature girlfriend in exchange for a childish party girl. True, Bilson is much hotter than Barrett, but I don’t think any man would want to date someone who still made mix tapes. Especially ones that are hand-delivered to your workplace.
The “Scrubs” star also doesn’t seem very comfortable in such a strict drama, and though he tries to play the funnyman when he can, the subject matter is too tight-lipped to allow for his usual antics. Even the darker humor of “Garden State” seems inappropriate here, since you never really know when it’s okay to laugh. Luckily, the rest of the actors are good at playing it serious, and while Wilkinson and Danner’s roles have been squeezed into the film as a way to attract a wider audience, they do a phenomenal job as the elderly couple struggling to keep the spark alive. Affleck also pulls his dramatic weight as Michael’s best friend, and Eric Christian Olson gets most of the laughs, but it’s Barrett’s performance in the final act that steals the show.
Regrettably, “The Last Kiss” isn’t as easy of a recommendation to Braff fans as initially expected. In fact, it’s a tough sell to any single group because a majority of the people that see this will either be too young to learn anything from the message or mature enough to know that using a condom prevents you from having to worry about any unexpected “surprises.” Still, for a film released only a few months before Oscar season, “The Last Kiss” is the perfect warm-up as your brain transitions from mindless summer fun to serious winter drama. Just remember not to bring another woman to the movie, because if your better half ever finds out, you'll already know what to expect.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
Mediocre as the film may be, the Blu-ray release for “The Last Kiss” actually delivers a solid collection of extras including two audio commentaries (one with director Tony Goldwyn and star Zach Braff, and another with Goldwyn, Braff and fellow co-stars Jacinda Barrett, Rachel Bilson, Michael Weston and Eric Christian Olsen) and a 40-minute making-of featurette on everything from casting to the actor's favorite scenes. Rounding out the disc is a Braff-directed music video, seven deleted/extended scenes (including two alternate endings), and a short gag reel that really isn’t all that funny.