Eye For Film >> Movies >> Just A Kiss (2001) Film Review
Just A Kiss
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
Three small words that strike fear into the hearts of men... no, sadly not "I love you", but rather "American romantic comedy", a phrase which, all too often, fills only the American part of the promise. The EIFF guide claims that Fisher Stevens' debut fiction feature is "refreshing" and "freewheeling, with its use of rotomation, used earlier this year in the critically mauled Waking Life. Unfortunately, these are claims with little substance. While the film is, indeed, freewheeling, some of us prefer to call it out of control. As for refreshing, this plot is so hammy it certainly ain't kosher.
Halley (Kyra Sedgewick) and Dag -"That's Dag, not dog", we are told in the film's worst running gag - played by Ron Eldard, are a thirtysomething couple who appear to have it all, a good relationship and fine friends in the form of Pete (Patrick Breen, who takes responsibility for the corn-filled script) and his girlfriend, a depressive dancer, named Rebecca (Marley Shelton). A dancer with a lust for life? Now, that would have been refreshing!
Unsurprisingly, all in the garden turns out not to be rosy, as Rebecca, in a fit of remorse, tells Halley and Pete that she and Dag did more than share a bottle of wine when he came to watch her perform, and from here on in the film slips into farce. Breen throws in an additional couple, Andre (Taye Diggs) and Colleen (Sarita Choudhury), who become embroiled in the mess of extramarital affairs, as well as a sadistic stalker (Marisa Tomei) with psychotic tendencies, and waits to watch the audience split its sides. Fear not, you won't be needing a needle and cotton.
The rotomation - redolent of Aha pop videos and Jackie magazine for those of a certain age - is quite cleverly employed to fill the gaps left by a small budget. All it succeeds in doing, however, is give the film an even more ephemeral feel.
There are simply too many ideas floating around - part farce, part Sliding Doors, part pop video - and yet failing to exploit them. Some of the jokes are so dated they make you cringe, such as the comic Indian accent used by the taxidriver in the opening scenes, which Stevens, who should know better after being in Short Circuit, seems to think intrinsically funny, and the lazy laugh they attempt to extract from a person of restricted growth part way through.
The actresses do their best with the material, with Tomei getting the best of what few gags hit the spot, while the men just mill about aimlessly.
Just a kiss? Just give it a miss.Reviewed on: 15 Aug 2002