No Tongue For The Last Kiss
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