He's Hitch, but in reverse – rather than putting couples together, he rends them apart. Such is the job of Amir (Samrat Chakrabarti) in Amyn Kaderali's Kissing Cousins. He acts as an intermediary for a member of a couple looking to dispose of their significant other, someone who can't deal with the emotional entanglement. He is also one of the few good characters in a less than satisfying film.
Amir's job – an outgrowth of past emotional turmoil – keeps him from having a real relationship, something he doesn't seem to mind terribly, until his best friend, Charlie (Zack Ward), returns from abroad with a new outlook on life and a fiancée in tow. Charlie refuses to let Amir be the best man at Charlie's wedding due to his "bad relationship karma," and Amir's stagnating life takes a turn for the worst… without someone to spend Thanksgiving with, he's forced to – horror of horrors – go home and spend it with his family.
From there this low-budget comedy takes a turn for the worse as Amir finds that his family has all but forgotten about him. He winds up taking his visiting cousin, Zara (Rebecca Hazlewood) back to Los Angeles with him, and, as if the title didn't give it away, the two find themselves quickly becoming couple-esque. What started as a joke on his friends turns almost semi-real and the blood relatives are disgusted with one another just in time to return to Amir's family for Christmas.
The film is not well acted, and the appearances of David Alan Grier (Amir's neighbor) and Jaleel White (the soon-to-be father of Amir's sister's baby) in the film is terribly puzzling. Neither has a large role (nor are they quite cameos), neither character is a stand-out, and neither performs brilliantly. Like so much of the film, one can only assume that there was some sort of great idea behind them being there, and that – like the rest of the film – the idea didn't quite turn into reality.
As it is made quite clear that Amir and Zara are in fact cousins, that relationship is headed nowhere, even if both of them might momentarily be interested in it being more than it is. Because the relationship can't progress and there's only one other single girl in the entire film, from the first frame the audience knows exactly where Amir is going to be at the end of the film. The only trick is disposing of Zara so that she's not alone by the time the credits roll, and that trick, like so much of the film, simply feels false.
It is understandable that a low-budget film wouldn't be able to afford the rights to actual NFL footage (and may not be lit as well as a traditional Hollywood production). However, claiming that people are watching the NFL when what is on screen is clearly not the NFL and rather appears to be NFL Europe (or NFL Europa or World League depending on when the game took place) footage is a poor use of time and energy, particularly when NFL teams who clearly didn't play in the game are mentioned later. It too feels false, as does the questionable amount of time the trip from Southern California to Northern California takes toward the end of the movie.
It is all such a disappointment as the core of the idea – finding someone for a "relationship termination specialist" – is such a good one. The whole fake relationship and girl transforming a guy into someone others would be interested in is certainly a retread, but handled correctly could work. It is not handled correctly here, mostly because it never actually goes anywhere.
The DVD itself includes some behind the scenes footage, improv moments, and interviews. And, while it allows the viewer to select either the 5.1 channel surround sound track or the stereo track, choosing either from the menu seems to lead to the stereo track – if one wants to watch the 5.1 channel track, it has to be selected in-film, not from the menu.
During the entirety of its runtime, I kept rooting for Kissing Cousins to get better – the Hitch in reverse notion is such a potentially funny one. Unfortunately, it never lived up to its potential. I would love for Kaderali and company to be given another shot with a reworked script (Kaderali wrote this one himself), but as it stands Kissing Cousins misses the mark.