As a 47-year-old man, I now stand with my youth at my back, facing a future of physical decline and increasing irrelevance. THIS IS SOME BENJAMIN BUTTONS SHIT. I’m basically writing this from the grave (in heaven, there is free WiFi, and it’s fast and reliable). And with all of my age and wisdom, it’s funny to think back on angsty people in their early- to mid-20s, who have this weird tendency to talk about how they didn’t think they’d live that long. I have known so many people like that. It’s such a high school poet sentiment to feel like you’re not going to make it to 25. Really it’s just a lack of imagination. It’s much cooler to picture yourself as some kind of out-of-control celebrity murdered in a fiery wreck, than a slightly less attractive version of yourself living in a shitty apartment and trying to figure out what the fuck you’re going to do with the rest of the time before you die. But aging is difficult. Obviously, I could be projecting a little bit here about my own youthful struggles with the passage of time and the approach of adulthood (although I never thought I would die young. I am going to live forever, duh), but I don’t think so. There are an awful lot of movies about boys who refuse to grow up, and I didn’t write them. Assholes wrote them.
One of those movies is The Last Kiss. And if fucking sucks.
The Last Kiss is about a 29-year-old architect (Zach Braff) who’s in a serious relationship with the perfect girl, Jenna (Jacinda Barrett). We know she’s the perfect girl because everyone keeps saying it. At the wedding of his best friend’s brother, Michael meets a college student, Kim (Rachel Bilson), and strikes up a flirtation with her, because he is having a lot of doubts about commitment and the future. Oh, Jenna is pregnant, btw. Anyway, Zach Braff and his three friends are like a goof troupe of scared little boys daunted by the prospect of turning 30, each of them dealing with it in their own intensely selfish and emotionally retarded way. There’s the oversexed party boy who has a different girl every night, the miserable lovelorn sap who got dumped by his high school sweetheart and can’t get over it, and Casey Affleck, who is married and has a baby (for a little while but then leaves his wife, because, you know, adulthood). So Zach Braff lies to Jenna and goes to a frat party with Rachel Bilson, because that is every 30-year-old man’s dream, to go to a fucking miserable frat party with a girl who is basically a child still, but then he decides that he can’t go through with “it” but by this time Jenna has already kind of figured it out, and she kicks him out of the house. Meanwhile, Jenna’s parents, Blythe Danner and Tom Wilkinson, have marital troubles of their own, because being white is hard no matter how old you are! Zach Braff decides that the best way to resolve this issue is to go over to Rachel Bilson’s dorm room and fuck her, because he’s not actually an architect, he’s a professional genius. But fucking Rachel Bilson makes him realize how much he loves Jenna (naturally). Even the mix CD that Rachel Bilson makes him (MIX CD!) can’t convince him to leave Jenna. He tries to patch things up with her, and it almost works, but then he admits that he did basically go directly over to a DORM as a 30-YEAR-OLD MAN, and fuck another woman while HIS LONGTIME GIRLFRIEND WAS PREGNANT WITH HIS CHILD, and she gets so mad. Women! Can’t live with them, can’t fuck another woman in a dorm room without them getting so mad! It looks like things might finally be over between our generation’s Romeo and Juliet, but then what Zach Braff does is sit on the porch for three days, or whatever the magic number of days to make your girlfriend forgive you for sleeping around on her while she was pregnant is, and she lets him in, because actually they’re both geniuses.
The chemistry between Zach Braff and Rachel Bilson is just electric!
Ooooh, I just got goosebumps! ON MY FUCKING EYES!
OK, so that’s one of the main problems right there. Rachel Bilson is a cute girl and everything, but the lack of romantic chemistry here is just painful. But it isn’t her fault. It’s Zach Braff’s fault. There’s no such thing as having chemistry with that guy. If you made a papier-mache volcano for your science fair project and you filled it with vinegar and Zach Braff ( or Zach Braff and anything) you’d get an F. He’s inert. (Periodical element ZNG!)
Other case in point, Zach Braff with Jacinda Barrett:
Yikes. The emotional fulcrum of this movie relies on me giving a shit about these two and whether or not they can fix their relationship, but I don’t care because there is absolutely no chemistry between the actors and the dialogue was written by an actual moron (Paul Haggis). And the only person less talented than Zach Braff is the girl who leveraged her stint on The Real World into an actual, yet inexplicable, acting career. She doesn’t even try to hide her Australian accent. Acting! So whoever was in charge of casting this thing should be given an award. And by “award” I mean “cinder block.” And by “given” I mean “have tied to their ankles.”
Whoops, I just pushed you into the ocean.
But even if these actors had chemistry together, and they do not have chemistry, any of them, even the guys don’t have chemistry together as friends, it wouldn’t solve another problem of this movie, which is the complete lack of emotional realism. Case in point: the aforeposted fight scene. If Jenna is really the perfect girl that every man would be lucky to spend the rest of his life with–which we know not due to anything that she actually does, but for the simple fact that it’s actual dialogue in this movie, spoken by multiple characters, just in case we didn’t get it the first browbeating time–she is pretty fucking quick to fly off the handle and threaten the father of her child and kick him out of the house. I’m not condoning what Zach Braff’s stupid, STUPID character did, and we will get to that in a second, but just while we’re on the subject of perfect loverz, my dream girl would wait until she had all of the facts before screaming in all of my friends’ faces at a wake (oh, prior to that scene, at the first hint of something suspicious, Jenna begins to scream in everyone’s face at a wake). Just saying.
Why was Rachel Bilson even at the wedding in the first place? Forget it, Jake, it’s StupidMovieTown.
The real crime of this movie, though, was the crime that all boys-will-be-boys movies make, which is attempting to legitimize and celebrate the shitty, adolescent behavior that the asinine screenwriter thinks is so charming and such an inherent part of life, because his head is shoved so far up his own Haggis. So, for example, when Casey Affleck leaves his wife, he is presented as the weary truthteller, who knows it’s not working and just wants what’s best for the kid, while his two-dimensionally drawn wife is a shrill, overbearing nightmare, despite the fact that she only has two 30-second scenes in the whole movie. When the lovelorn friend who got dumped by his high school sweetheart goes over to his ex-girlfriend’s house to plead with her to take him back, he stops first to punch her new boyfriend in the gut, and after she refuses his advances, he punches the new boyfriend in the face. Well, that is assault, and you go to jail for that. It’s what assholes do. It’s not the aw-shucks behavior of a guy dealing with his messy heart. It’s pathological. Fuck him. Fuck all of these stupid guys.
Fuck this guy.
Fuck this guy.
And fuck Casey Affleck.
Movies like this are such hackneyed attempts to pretend that the self-absorbed narcissism of the screenwriter (and probably filmmaker and actors) is a common part of everyday life. “We’re all like this, and sometimes it’s hard, but that’s life,” is what this movie says. But that’s not true. We’re not all boorish adult-sized-teenagers who think that every moment of inept selfishness is an epic drama of humanity. And we don’t all think that women are vague, poorly drawn tools to be used in the ALL-IMPORTANT shaping of our MANHOOD. Fuck you, dude. You’re making the rest of us look bad. If Zach Braff is the everyman then a gun full of bullets should be the everyman’s breakfast.
The fact that Zach Braff is even famous or cast as the romantic lead in the first place is such an ugly nerd’s dream of what the world should be like. He’s our generation’s Woody Allen–minus any of the talent or pedophilia–with beautiful women inexplicably falling at his unattractive-and-an-asshole-to-boot feet. Ugh. And I mean, OF COURSE, Zach Braff’s character is an architect. “Frustrated architect” is just screenwriter shorthand for “frustrated screenwriter.” Lame.
Paul Haggis, you are officially The Worst Male Screenwriter of All Time. (Don’t worry, Diablo, your prize is on the way.) That hunt, at least, is over.