Tony Goldwyn's insufferable new drama The Last Kiss takes place in Madison, Wisconsin, a college town where midlife crises often begin in the mid-20s, and 29 can feel positively geriatric. So it makes sense that doe-eyed protagonist Zach Braff and his aimless pals would simultaneously run smack-dab into existential moments around their 30th birthdays. Unfortunately, nothing else about Tony Goldwyn's vapid, navel-gazing, claustrophobic adaptation of a 2001 Italian film rings remotely true.
In a performance that consists largely of staring thoughtfully into space, Braff stars as a seemingly content architect whose perfect existence is rocked to the core by an affair with Rachel Bilson, a sexy undergraduate who symbolizes the seductive allure of eternal adolescence. The bad news about The Last Kiss is that the adorably chinless Braff comes off as whiny, self-pitying, and unlikeable. The worse news is that so does nearly everyone else, especially Blythe Danner, who stops just short of wearing a T-shirt reading "For Your Consideration" in her bid to over-emote her way to an Oscar nomination.
Paul Haggis penned Crash and Million Dollar Baby in addition to The Last Kiss, and while Kiss and Crash cover vastly different worlds, they both devolve into epic screaming matches devoid of nuance and complexity. With its thinly drawn characters and constant, hyperbolic conflict, The Last Kiss bears the unmistakable Haggis touch, one as subtle and understated as an electric chainsaw through the spinal cord. Of the large, wildly overqualified cast, only Tom Wilkinson, as the dry-witted father of Braff's gorgeous pregnant girlfriend (Jacinda Barrett), stands out, in part because he's the only character constitutionally averse to whining about his problems. Wilkinson's tight-lipped shrink is probably supposed to read as cold and distant, but after 104 sluggish minutes of yuppies screaming about their angst, stoicism and repression begin to look pretty damn appealing.