Pin It
Favorite

Take Two 

by Luke Bumgarten & r & & r & The Last Kiss & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & he Last Kiss is an attempt at condensing and universalizing the experience of a newish breed of twentysomething. It fails badly. It's often very raw (not unlike The Break Up) and occasionally very funny, but it's not enough.





The problem involves the two main characters. Well, no, that's not true. The real problem is a third character, Kim (Rachel Bilson). No, that's not right either... Start over: the seed of the problem is floating around in screenwriter Paul Haggis' head. Kim's the water, soil and sunlight. Michael (Zach Braff) and Jenna (Jacinda Barrett) -- a heretofore happy couple who, after skipping marriage and heading straight to unplanned pregnancy, are twisted in all sorts of knots over the sudden lack of freedom they have -- are the problem in full bloom.





Haggis is more fascinated with archetypes than with people. He wants to talk about the way certain types of people deal with certain types of events. So, he creates characters out of vast, myopic generalizations that are meant to unite huge swaths of humanity, making his characters nothing more than placeholders for each audience member to fill with his or her experience.





It's a dirty little proclivity that worked to his advantage in Crash, what with L.A.'s ethnic strife and the happy similarities between archetypes, stereotypes and bigotry (and the easy though crude lines to be drawn between black culture, Latin culture, Islamic culture and white culture, between the rich and poor), and in Million Dollar Baby, with its easy to delineate (penis versus no penis) gender role deconstruction. There are no such easy generalities here. There's only Michael and Jenna. Both white, both raised in suburbia, both comfortable.





Haggis doesn't have a clue about the things and people he's trying to represent. (He's trying to represent me, by the way -- my generation, my socioeconomic milieu, my viewpoint. He doesn't understand us as individuals and he doesn't understand us as a group.) Thus Braff and Barrett aren't people; they're the perceived value set of a generation. They're supposed to represent all of us. Or at least I hope they are; that's the only way their motiveless actions make any sense. And since Michael has no real motives, it's impossible to set him off on his journey without a kick. Enter Kim.





Kim's a psychological personification, essentially -- a prime mover masquerading as a plucky, awkward, sexy character foil. She's plopped down -- in the middle of Michael's friend's wedding, ominously -- like the ghost of promiscuous erections past, and sets about the task of seducing Michael before they ever meet. She exists only to reinforce and embody the longing youth he's about to lose.





There's a line to be toed between inchoate universality and alienating specificity. The satellite characters often toe it nicely -- I'd love to watch a film about Jenna's parents or Michael's loser buddies, because both groups burst with human quirks. But Michael and Jenna are hopeless EveryPeople. They're complete ciphers -- which is more than I can say for poor, metaphorical Kim.





This is my own generation, but it's unrecognizable to me. Like that half-alarmed, half-amused Time cover story on us, the Twixters, The Last Kiss is a bunch of generational outsiders failing to understand our motivations. It'd be insulting if it weren't so earnest. But it's still a misguided attempt. ("I got an idea, guys, maybe it's this new breakneck pace of life that's driving them cuh-ray-zee.") It'd be insulting if it weren't so quaint.





Haggis' first job was writing for One Day at a Time. Director Tony Goldwyn is a veteran of television and a slave to clich & eacute; (watch his sex scenes if you don't believe me: his face, her face, long shot, thrust). Perhaps inevitably, then, the relationship at the center of The Last Kiss feels shallow like daytime TV.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Bridging the Gap
  • Bridging the Gap

    Bridge Avenue stands as the dividing line between the swanky Kendall Yards and impoverished West Central. Is that about to change?
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • Rematch
  • Rematch

    Once again, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Joe Pakootas face off for her seat in Congress. Here are some ways they differ
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • Hail to the Chief (Again)
  • Hail to the Chief (Again)

    Craig Meidl again gets the nod from Mayor Condon; plus, a WSU football player in Domino's brawl won't be charged
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Washington State Chinese Lantern Festival

Washington State Chinese Lantern Festival @ Riverfront Park

Through Oct. 30

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Murrow's Nightmare

    Debate moderators need to be much more than an onstage prop to make our democracy work
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

election 2016


BRIEFS


trail mix


green zone


marijuana


Readers also liked…

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation