Remember Garden State? I certainly do.
Scrubs star Zach Braff's 2004 cinematic debut left audiences and critics alike enchanted and absorbed by the actor's uncanny ability to replicate the complex wave of emotions surrounding that critical time called "growing up." As Mr. Braff has recently announced his intention to leave the television series to work on films full time, his new film The Last Kiss, an adaptation of a successful 1999 Italian film by the same name, might be seen as a barometer of how he will fare in that wide world. It tries very hard to put a more mature spin on the themes developed in Garden State, but in the end it remains more a frustratingly scattered curiosity than a tightly focused and polished meditation on those topics.
Potentially risking becoming stereotyped into these sorts of roles, Mr. Braff plays Michael, a mopey, somewhat depressed young man inching perilously close to 30 who sees his life as being "fixed": he is seemingly unable to escape the complications inherent in his relationship with pregnant wife Jenna (Jacinda Barrett), her parents (a grim Tom Wilkinson and a fluttery Blythe Danner, who have their own set of interpersonal issues to deal with), and in his job at a local architecture firm. Is he bored? Not really, but the excitement he once knew has all but died out, leaving him desperate for something new. Then he meets Kim (Rachel Bilson), a college student ten years his junior, who, upon Michael's explanation to her of his predicament, pronounces his life "really boring" and who later gives him a "really awesome" mix tape. How droll.
It is in Ms. Bilson's character - manipulative, self-serving, and wholly enamored of Michael - that the film's credulity begins to crumble. As she begins to tear him away from his responsibilities and convictions, we grow to hate her and Michael as well.