Thursday, September 14, 2006

No Tongue For The Last Kiss

The above title makes no sense, but I'm sticking with it.

So, some people, myself included, have been drawing the obvious comparisons between this movie and Garden State. And I'm here to say that they're quite different... and this one's worse. I hate having to write bad things about this movie.. it had so many good elements going in: great soundtrack, great actors, what could go wrong?

Oh yes, that's right.. a bad script. From back-to-back Academy Award winner, Paul Haggis, no less. My writing partner has been saying for months that Haggis probably wrote this during the shitty times and decided to cash in while he's still hot. I checked, and that sounds about right. He wrote this four years ago, which was between his days on Family Law and Mr. Sterling.

Regardless, this movie exemplified all three of my big pet peeves.. one of them being the same gripe I had about another Haggis script, Crash (B+): everything was too contrived.

With Crash, the first time through, I loved it. I cried, I laughed, went through more emotions than my sophomore year of high school (oooh how that was a rough year.. damn you lisa, damn you). But then you dwell on it, and suddenly you realize so dark the con of man! Not only did all the characters have the race element go down in over-the-top fashion, but they were all connected? And all in a matter of days?? In the words of Gob Bluth, "Come on!"

But at least with Crash, I didn't realize this the first time through. Here, it is all too apparent. I mean every single character involved with this group of friends has their respective relationships go to shit within the span of a week. In that same week, we also had a wedding and a death? Come on! Even the good music goes to waste over the dramatic montages, where they try so hard to pull at your heart strings that you tug back.

Also, was the voiceover really necessary? There was NO reason.. I repeat, absolutely NO reason.. for this movie to start with a voiceover!! I'm not even sure if it ever came back. If you're gonna use it, do it right. This was just lazy.

Lastly, and this is my biggest complaint, why on earth do filmmakers believe that a ridiculously fine girl (Bilson was so hot) would share a glance with a guy across a reception and suddenly become so enamored that she gets all up on that mofo like he's been dipped in catnip and covered with hundred dollar bills??? I have never ever heard of this happening to anyone I know nor have I personally experienced this. Maybe I'm a complete loser, maybe I have ugly guy friends (sorry guy friends), but do girls seriously attack some stranger's balls over a glance shared across a long distance?? If you are one of these girls, my number is 267-253-####. I know a place with a pretty wide field, we can share the glance there.

But I'm not overexaggerating here, some parts were so ridiculous that I heard collective "what??"s and "oh my god"s from the audience. Why? Because in real life, the non-famous Zach Braffs have to initiate with a girl, and maybe on a good day, will get a number. Which they will call only to hear "this number is no longer in service." (Damn you Amanda... damn you)

Anyways, by no means, am I saying that I'm a better writer than Paul Haggis (not in a public blog anyway). Nor am I saying that he's a bad writer. He's a good writer. No question. But these things annoy me to no end. Of course, there's also a chance that this wasn't Haggis' fault. It was based on some French movie, so maybe the story sucked to begin with. I haven't watched the original because I am uncultured and have a hard time watching foreign films.

However, Haggis did do some good. A lot of the scenes, individually, were great. Tons of hilarious material. With all the talk about it being a "darker turn from Garden State (B+)" for Braff, I found this much lighter and funnier. Unfortunately, these little scenes of goodness don't piece together very well.

The actors were great, the acting definitely elevated this movie an entire grade point. Braff was awesome as usual.. being able to pull off the comedy and drama side-by-side with ease, which I think most other male actors his age would have butchered. And kudos to Jacinda Barrett too... who knew a Real World alum could actually act? The real stars though were the supporting cast.. Blythe Danner and Tom Wilkinson were splendid as always, loved Casey Affleck. I really wish one of their stories had taken center stage instead. Also, anyone else think Michael Weston and Charlie Day (It's Always Sunny..) are almost the same person? Both are hilarious. They do the same high voice thing when they get mad. I probably wouldn't have noticed if Charlie Day had replaced Weston in middle of the movie. And have I mentioned how hot Rachel Bilson is in this movie?

Overall, the humor was unexpected and wonderful, but so much so that it took away from the drama. A movie that balanced this well was Little Miss Sunshine (B+). But here, instead of the comedy enhancing the dramatic moments, The Last Kiss unfortunately allows the funny to detach you from the actual consequences at hand.

Final grade: B-.

Oh and to the two freshmen girls from Pepperdine who shared their popcorn with me, thank you.

p.s. since the soundtrack is such a selling point for the movie, i'm not gonna post all the tracks. you can buy the full soundtrack here. but captain oats won't leave you hanging, here are some of my favs:
"Reason Why" - Rachel Yamagata
"Arms of a Woman" - Amos Lee
"Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk (Reprise)" - Rufus Wainwright
"Paperweight" - Joshua Radin & Schuyler Fisk

15 Comments:

Blogger procrastinatrix said...

Bummer, man. I saw the original Italian flick (L'Ultimo Bacio) -- it was pretty good -- and was excited to hear about this remake. As for Rachel Bilson falling for a Zach Braff character, maybe it worked better in the original because the Italian dude is totally hot. Kinda like Michael Vartan hot.

7:15 AM  
Anonymous Mary said...

Hello Captain Oats!

I gotta say, thanks for not going ape-shit over "Garden State" like every look-mommy-I'm-cultured antisocial indie snob wannabe did when it came out. That movie was a load of self-indulgent crap. And no offense to Zach Braff, who I think is extraordinarily talented, but things don't bode well for "Last Dis," either! I'm glad I can trust your film reviews. Plus, the free music I can download while I'm at work doesn't hurt, either!!

Talk to you soon,
Your friendly Internet stalker

9:43 AM  
Blogger Captain Oats said...

Hey Sarah, yeah Vartan is a very very good looking man. I hope someone smashes his face. Woah.. rage blackout there, sorry. Well, I'd like to hear your thoughts on this one since you liked the original.. but I'd rent this on DVD instead of seeing it at the theater.

Hey Mary,
Well, I agree with you to a certain extent. But I did really enjoy Garden State.. pretty much the same amount as Little Miss Sunshine.. maybe a little more. But yes, there are a lot of the Braff Boomers go "ape shit" over it... and that is annoying.

Anyhoo, I shall return to sending you creepy myspace messages.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Scribble94 said...

Yes, it happens, even to ugly guys, and man, you are missing out. Those girls from Pepperdine were offering more than just their popcorn.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Scribe LA said...

What girl would "share a glance with a guy across a reception and suddenly become so enamored that she gets all up on that mofo like he's been dipped in catnip and covered with hundred dollar bills???"
LOL. Thanks for The Last Kiss heads up. All ready to totally love it and now... will go in with less expectations to hopefully still enjoy. BTW - Haggis, though clearly great and blablabla - is not the person I would have preferred to script this kind of flick. What about Lawrence Kasdan (or even his son, Jake)? I figure the movie will be just as you say, Sonny, and that means a quality flick that could have hit it out of the park, but instead is only a double.
Cheers. And sorry about Lisa and Amanda :-)
Scribe

5:41 PM  
Blogger Captain Oats said...

Hey Scribble,
Yes, I am missing out. But I'm not talking like normal flirting.. I mean that still doesn't happen to me nor my friends.. but I can believe that. But like full-on pursuing even after the "i have a gf" comment, showing up at place of work stalking, and bluntly asking to sleep with you flirting.. this exists?? If so, Scribble, teach me your ways.

Hi Scribe!
How's it going? You in LA yet??

1:21 AM  
Anonymous ecs said...

Hi Captain Oats! I'm sort of new to your blog but it's great :) I have to agree with you on The Last Kiss, I saw it last night after months of anticipation and I really didn't like it. Maybe I was expecting another Garden State or something, but I really didn't like it. Zach Braff should stick with stuff he's written himself. The soundtrack, on the other hand, is gorgeous, although I didn't hear too many of the songs from it in the movie... although I encourage everyone out there to go and buy it!

Thanks for posting the songs though! Everyone should download them immediately.

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your music selections always make my day. thanks for fulfilling my music cravings.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Swishy said...

The part that Scribe quoted--hi-freaking-larious. I laughed out loud.

That's pretty much what I was afraid of with this movie. I'll still see it, but yeah ... low-ish expectations. Did love Garden State, though ... especially that cute, cute, cute, fireplace scene!

9:39 PM  
Blogger Captain Oats said...

Hey Ecs, glad you agree on the Last Kiss.. it's just not a good movie.. in hindsight, I should've given it a C+, but gotta throw a little love for Braff, Affleck and the rest of the cast I guess.

Hi Anon, you're quite welcome!

Hey Swishy! I do love the fireplace scene... this girl i know is the one that comes in all wet from swimming and asks for a towel? Is it creepy that I've watched that scene in slow motion? Probably.

1:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you agree on how disappointing "The Last Kiss" turned out to be. I thought it had such good potential and was disappointed when it didn't deliver. Rachel is great eye candy but did they have to make her character so two-dimensional and, yes, unrealistic? SHE MAKES HIM A MIXED TAPE?!

I wished they would have utilized Blythe Danner and Tom Wilkinson a lot more as well. I would love to have seen more of them than a lot of the throwaway scenes that were shown.

Kudos to Jacinda Barrett for her acting chops but it sucked she had to deal with such a petulant jackwad whose only defense was that there were no surprises in his life.

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Erica said...

I've got to agree that the acting was fabulous, but a lot of the characters just made no sense. They behaved and spoke like movie characters pretending to be real people. The movie's tone in general was also a little off - as you said, Cap'n, the humour and drama just didn't blend well.
So I've got to agree that despite some pretty awesome people attached to this project (you've mentioned them all, with the exception of Eric Christian Olsen who's a pretty cool dude but I don't know why) the movie itself kind of came up short.

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