DreamWorks // 2006 // 103 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Joel Pearce (Retired) // April 22nd, 2009
"I've been thinking about my life lately, and everything feels pretty planned out. There's no more surprises."
Although it's certainly not the romantic comedy that it's been marketed as, The Last Kiss is an impressive drama with quirky characters, great dialogue, and intense emotional breakdowns. It's a Zach Braff vehicle, but it goes in a completely different direction than we expect.
Michael (Zach Braff, Garden State) is deeply involved with Jenna (Jacinda Barrett, Ladder 49), and she just got pregnant. Their relationship is perfect, except one tiny thing -- Michael is feeling trapped by life. With no real reason, he begins to flirt with Kim (Rachel Bilson, Jumper), a college student who tosses herself at him. All around him, his friends' relationships are also falling apart.
More than anything, The Last Kiss is a film about commitment. Not in that cheesy romantic comedy sense, but really looking at what it takes to maintain a good relationship with someone that you are willing to commit to. The humor doesn't come from Michael's unwillingness to commit, but rather from the difficult situations that arise as he blunders into a completely stupid situation that he knows he could have avoided. Why do we make bad choices intentionally? Michael has an answer to that, though I'm not sure he's right. Either way, the price we pay after a mistake like this is not comedic at all.
Admittedly, the script of The Last Kiss isn't that great. There are many telegraphed lines and generic situations, except placed in a more dramatic context. Thankfully, the performances more than make up for it. Zach Braff annoys some people, but this is one of the best performances he's ever turned in. His friends are also excellent, especially Casey Affleck as a new father who isn't sure he can handle the changes that come with that responsibility. The best performances, however, come from Tom Wilkinson and Blythe Danner as Michael's in-laws, who prove that the challenges of commitment never go away, that hurts in relationships can run very deep, but also that a good couple can survive almost anything with a strong enough level of commitment.
While those expecting a romantic comedy will probably be shell-shocked by The Last Kiss's obsession with mistakes and consequences, it does a wonderful job of balancing humor, pathos, and serious drama. There are some genuinely funny moments, but many of them ring intentionally hollow, in the midst of situations that some viewers have even labeled depressing. Viewers looking for something more, however, will appreciate its tough, uncompromising approach.
For newcomers and fans of the film, the Blu-ray offers a good way to watch it. While The Last Kiss isn't flashy, the image quality is as good as we could expect from a film this recent. The colors are excellent, and I noticed no flaws or weaknesses in the 1080p video transfer. Black levels were decent, and details were certainly acceptable for the genre. The sound is equally good, with the voices mixed well with the soundtrack (which is full of interesting musical choices). In terms of extras, we get the same content from the DVD, including a cast commentary, deleted scenes, a music video from the Cary Brothers, a featurette, and a gag reel. There's nothing unusual or special here, but it's a well-stocked edition that shows some care and thought. None of these are in high definition, though.
The Blu-ray edition of The Last Kiss represents a solid investment for fans of the film as well as those who haven't bothered to watch it yet. It's a fascinating and challenging film that blends a number of genres and tones. The Blu-ray isn't impressive enough to warrant an automatic upgrade, but it's a good enough transfer to make it the release of choice for a home collection. Either way, if you are sick of generic romantic comedies, The Last Kiss may have just what you're looking for.
Review content copyright © 2009 Joel Pearce; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (German)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes
* Gag Reel
* Music Video
* Official Site