A cute college girl (Rachel Bilson of "The O.C.") tempts 29-year-old architect Michael (Zach Braff) away from his pregnant girlfriend, Jenna (Jacinda Barrett). Michael's friends have similar problems with commitment, and Jenna's parents (Blythe Danner, Tom Wilkinson) are on the outs. Written by Paul Haggis ("Crash," "Million Dollar Baby"), the film is a remake of the 2001 Italian flick "L'ultimo Bacio."
Big question: Can "The Last Kiss," like "Garden State," reflect the hopes and fears of a generation, or is it just a gloomy look at growing up?
Skip it: Date movie warning! The prospect of monogamy has rarely seemed bleaker. Characters who want to settle down can't; and those who fear commitment dig their own grave by getting involved. Director Tony Goldwyn offers a glimpse of overjoyed newlyweds, but based on the rest of this relationship buzzkill, there's more than enough reason to assume that the happy couple is doomed as well.
Catch it: Despite some horrible dialogue, Bilson is more believable and restrained as the irresistible cutie than Natalie Portman in "Garden State," and "The Last Kiss" springs to life whenever she's on screen. Michael's group of lifelong friends (Casey Affleck, Eric Christian Olsen, Michael Weston) is also cast and acted perfectly, both as a unit and as individuals looking around at their lives, feeling old and not being exactly sure how and when that happened.
Bottom line: "The Last Kiss" is a weirdly likable movie that gives an absolute beatdown to the notion of procreation and marriage, while focusing on the problems in relationships but not the solutions. It presents committed love not as a thrill to be nurtured but a responsibility to be fulfilled.
Bonus: Jenna thinks women can determine what makes a guy happy and miserable in less than 30 minutes, but just in case there's any confusion, Chris (Affleck) makes it clear exactly what it is that he and his friends want: "She's perfect. She's beautiful. She's like a guy. What more could you ask for?"
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
'The Last Kiss''
Directed by Tony Goldwyn; screenplay by Paul Haggis; photographed by Tom Stern; edited by Lisa Zeno Churgin; music by Michael Penn; production design by Dan Leigh; produced by Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, Andre Lamal and Marcus Viscidi. A DreamWorks Pictures and Lakeshore Entertainment release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:55. MPAA rating: R (for sexuality, nudity and language).
Michael - Zach Braff
Jenna - Jacinda Barrett
Chris - Casey Affleck
Kim - Rachel Bilson
Izzy - Michael Weston
Anna - Blythe Danner
Stephen - Tom WilkinsonCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times