The Last Kiss
Directed by Tony Goldwyn

Written by Paul Haggis, based on "L'Ultimo Bacio"

Starring Zach Braff


The Last Kiss

Fingernails on a blackboard. You know the desperate feeling you get when you hear that screeching sound? Your body shakes, you cover your ears, you want to run from the room, you wish it was permissible to shoot the person making the sound. That's how I felt watching "The Last Kiss," written, directed and populated by some of the most attractive, skilled film people I know. How did it happen? How did they make a movie so obvious, so needlessly sympathetic to a group of 30-ish adolescent dolts, so unaware of grownup life as to make "Jackass" seem like an undiscovered Antonioni treasure?

"The Last Kiss" is the remake of an Italian film, "L'Ultimo Bacio" (duh, The Last Kiss), from 2001. With a screenplay by Paul Haggis, Oscar-winner for last year's "Crash," and direction by Tony Goldwyn, the director of that brilliant and haunting gem "A Walk on the Moon," and starring the witty and lovable Zach Braff (writer/director/star of an also lovable film, "Garden State"), "The Last Kiss" is so annoying, so frustrating, so obvious, so pedestrian in its structure and characterizations, as to make you wonder if some evil doppelgänger hadn't taken over the bodies and minds of its creators.

It's the story of 29-year-old Michael (Braff), three years into a relationship with his girlfriend Jenna (Jacinda Barrett), and she is newly pregnant. Now for the questions, class: Will he panic at the oncoming responsibilities of fatherhood and commitment? Umm, yes. Will he be attracted to Kim, a pretty college sophomore (Rachel Bilson) and a) forget to show up for the sonogram; and b) sleep with Kim and lie to Jenna that he is out with his friend Chris (Ben Affleck, speaking in a voice so light it's as though he took helium just before each line), who has already told him he won't lie for him? Umm, also yes. Will Jenna kick him out when she learns about it? Once again, yes. Will - well, you get the point.

There's more, of course, including the end of Chris's own marriage and the leaving for Patagonia of two other friends, but why burden you with a rehearsal of the obvious? A saving grace, though, is the presence of two old pros, Blythe Danner and Tom Wilkinson as Jenna's parents, who lend a bit of weight to the proceedings.

So - is "The Last Kiss" supposed to be a comedy? A coming-of-age drama? A bit of both? Well, it's neither funny nor profound nor insightful, so that leaves us with - nothing. What a waste.