Blu-Ray Review: The Last Kiss

Somewhere along the line, The Last Kiss got missed, even though it had a number of interesting things going on. The film grossed less than $16 million in theaters, despite the fact that it features a tremendous cast (we'll get into that in a moment) and interesting real-world conflicts. It's also the more rare R-Rated romantic comedy. Anyway, my roundabout point here is that you should see The Last Kiss -- on Blu-ray or DVD, you make the call, but it's a worthy and underrated treat, a worthy sequel (tonally) to the much more appreciated Garden State.

As much as anything, The Last Kiss speaks to the odd place men in their early 30s find themselves in. No longer college drinkers, but not yet wise older gents, they are burdened with responsibilities while also treated a bit like children. Well, at least in the The Last Kiss they are. Zach Braff's girlfriend is pregnant, they might get a house, and he heads off to a wedding where he's pretty much attacked by Rachel Bilson. She notes his doldrums and responds in a predatory manner, leaving our hero with a real dilemma to go on top of his quarter-life crisis. Does he stay with the gal he loves? Or zip off to the new and exciting thing? Of course, this is the balance all people in all relationships find themselves in, a plot as old as time itself. Still, it works.

Now then, the players involved. Jacinda Barrett was a cast member of The Real World, but she acquits herself well as the pregnant girlfriend here. Casey Affleck is a friend of Braff; he has a new baby, and he's not really feeling the whole "change diapers" scene. Tom Wilkinson, before he was rediscovered in Michael Clayton, plays the father o' Jacinda, and he finds himself in the unenviable position of having an unstable (though long-term) marriage. Eric Christian Olsen is the single guy, never committing to anyone, our control group against wedded carnage.

As a sidenote, the film was adapted from an Italian version by Paul Haggis, the writer behind Crash, Million Dollar Baby, and Casino Royale. Clearly this is a man who can write a little bit. Haggis is gifted at bringing out the conflict and tension, and The Last Kiss is well paced and stylish.

On the downside, the movie is filled with over-the-top dramatic renderings of what destroyed relationships look like. And there's definitely an element of manic-pixie-dream-girl happening with Bilson's character. But the soundtrack is catchy, and it's a more palatable version of Revolutionary Road. Where the former will make you smile on a Friday night, the latter might drive you into group therapy (don't get me wrong though, Revo Road is a masterpiece).

The Blu-ray is stacked with features, and if you're a value sort of shopper you won't be disappointed. There are seven deleted scenes, including two alternate endings and two commentaries (both feature director Tony Goldwyn and Zach Braff, and one has Barrett, Bilson, and Olsen too). There's also a Cary Brothers video and four featurettes. It's a lavish treatment, especially given the drubbing the film received. The cast notes during the commentary that they've warned their boyfriends and girlfriends about some of the uncomfortable content, and a few reviews and negative reactions to the film are mentioned too. The consensus seems to be that no one likes having questions of fidelity raised, no one likes to get too introspective about their companions. But that doesn't mean these aren't important questions, and you should at the very least give this a rental.

The Last Kiss is available now on DVD and Blu-ray from Dreamworks Video.