In a typical romantic comedy, audiences are supposed to root for the main characters to find happiness in the end, but Zach Braff doubts that any such consensus will develop by the end of his new movie, "The Last Kiss."
"It's not the kind of movie you come out of and go, 'Oh, that was good. Where are we going to eat?'" Braff explains. "It's a movie that you get into an argument about, or you sit around with your friends, over a beer or coffee, and you talk about it. That's what's interesting about making movies, to me. I don't want to make a movie that people forget 10 seconds later."
Based on Gabriele Muccino's Italian hit "L'Ultimo bacio," "The Last Kiss" features Braff as Michael, a 29-year-old architect. With a good job, close friends and a beautiful fiancee (Jacinda Barrett), Michael has a pretty good life, but when a college vixen (Rachel Bilson) begins flirting with him at a wedding, he begins to doubt if he's ready for the responsibilities of adulthood. With important choices to make, he doesn't necessarily make the right moves, which Braff appreciated.
"He's a real guy who does a stupid-ass thing, but don't we all, at times in our lives?" Braff muses. "That's why I wanted to do it. It didn't wimp out in being honest. Women, and some men, are supposed to hate my character, but also empathize with [the fact that] he's real. He's a human. I'm so sick of movies where the protagonist only has bad things happen to him because of negative outside forces. That's such bulls***. We all do dumb things in our lives, and we all do things where we wake up the next morning and go, 'Oh, I wish I had a f***ing time machine!' And I think that that's real and I could relate to that."
Braff, who became the subject of countless "voice-of-his-generation" stories after his writing-directing debut "Garden State," notes that "The Last Kiss" is another portrait of contemporary men adrift.
"There's a line in the movie, 'I told you I'd marry you when you can name three couples you know that lasted more than five years,' and she can only name the ducks in the duck pond and her parents," he recalls. "So, I think it's difficult for us to point to success stories. Who knows, in the past, maybe people were more unfaithful because they spent their whole lives together. I don't know. But, I do know that my generation definitely doesn't have many examples of a full lifetime marriage working forever, so we can't help but call that into question when we set out to find a mate."
After taking full creative control on "Garden State," Braff is only acting in "The Last Kiss," which was written by Oscar-winner Paul Haggis and directed by Tony Goldwyn. He admits that the loss of control was a bit of a concern.
"It's hard. Inherent in being a director is having strong opinions about things. They aren't always right. Sometimes, they're mostly wrong, depending on what director you are," he says. "But, it is hard to come into someone else's set and not be a final decision maker. But, that having been said, Tony was so collaborative and so open to my two cents and what I had to say. When my gut was really saying, 'Why aren't we doing it this way?,' I didn't have to fear, 'Oh, I don't want to upset him.' He didn't have an ego about it."
Goldwyn was so open to Braff's imput that he asked the Grammy-winning soundtrack supervisor to track down music for the new movie.
"When I signed on to do the movie, they asked me, because of the success of 'Garden State,' if I'd be interested in supervising the soundtrack, and I really wanted to do it," Braff says simply. "I love music, and sharing music. It's a little different, when you're not directing the movie because the director places the songs, but I worked with Tony and provided him with tons of mix CDs and, from there, he would pull the songs he liked and place them in different scenes."
"The Last Kiss" opens wide on Friday, Sept. 15.