Damn us pesky kids, we have to have everything right here, right now. It seems we can't even wait until 50 to have a mid-life crisis anymore - it now hits just before you reach your thirties.

Last Kiss focuses on this notion. You reach 29 and evaluate your life to see whether you have achieved all you wanted to by this stage. Are you in the right job? With the right partner? Ready to be a proper adult and have a family of your own?

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This is almost a chick flick for guys - presenting relationships as a guy sees them.

Which in this case means, aarrggh, commitment, run for the hills or bed another bird. And worse, it is often as schmalty and sickening as any crappy, girly, love story.

The story revolves around Michael (Zach Braff), 29, whose girlfriend of three years, Jenna (Jacinda Barrett), is 10 weeks pregnant. He feels the rest of his life is all planned out and there are no surprises left.

So when gorgeous college student Kim (Rachel Bilson) flirts with him, he arranges a date. Will the fling make him realise he already is happy or show him what he is missing?

Zach Braff shakes off the hapless, lovable character that made him famous in Scrubs to play Michael - bland, boring and, well, a bit of a bastard.

Maybe it's just because I'm a woman but he didn't come across as the vulnerable, confused, misguided lad he is supposed to be. He cheats on his pregnant girlfriend. It's hard to pity him.

Likewise Casey Affleck as Chris, who leaves his wife and baby because he's sick of their fighting. Okay, his missus Lisa (Lauren Lee Smith) is a bawling, whining psycho but he doesn't seem to help with the kid or make any attempt to discuss the problem. He's fed up with her nagging so hits the road. Nice.

A few other sub-plots are tagged on too, as Michael's other friends and Jenna's parents work through their relationship issues. The secondary characters are pretty one-dimensional and none of it is hugely interesting.

And there is next to no comic relief. Braff drives into a tree and there is a supposedly hilarious American Pie-lite bachelor party. But even that ends in tears. Mostly mine as I realised I still had 90 minutes of this mush to watch.

Director Tony Goldwyn - he was the baddie in Ghost - tries to tackle some interesting issues but the end result is neither thought-provoking nor gripping.

It's a great pity considering the script is penned by Oscar-winner Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby, Casino Royale) and based on accalimed Italian drama La Ultimo Bacio.

The young cast do the best they can and Rachel Bilson and Jacinda Barrett shine. They are only characters to evoke sympathy as they both get screwed over by Michael. Bilson plays the cute, overkeen, clingy teen well and makes a good innocent victim.

Despite its numerous flaws, The Last Kiss isn't an unwatchable movie. It just isn't a great movie, it's just so bland you can't really enjoy it. Give it a kiss goodbye.

Reviewed on: 14 Feb 2007
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Four friends panic at the approach of their 30th birthdays.
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Jennie Kermode **

Director: Tony Goldwyn

Writer: Paul Haggis

Starring: Zach Braff, Jacinda Barrett, Casey Affleck, Rachel Bilson, Michael Weston, Eric Christian Olsen, Blythe Danner, Tom Wilkinson

Year: 2006

Runtime: 115 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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