by Dane Youssef
Now here is a movie that wants to be something successful by combining everything successful.
"Kissing A Fool" wants to be too many things. Can you mix successful ingredients and get the best of every world? "Kissing..." tries to be a '40's-style romantic comedy, a modern sex comedy and a sit-com at the same time.
Co-writer/Director Doug Ellin is a friend of Schwimmer's and Schwimmer has gone on and on about exactly how great it feels to shed his Ross-image and play the complete anti-Ross.
Jason Lee stars as Jay Murphy, a sensitive nice guy who's a romance novelist and is recovering from his latest breakup with a model named Natasha (played by TV's "Weird Science" Vanessa Angel). He has a sweet boy-next-door demeanor about him and his real problem is he's too nice and sensitive for his own good.
The worst part about being sensitive is that the world is so full of crap and garbage, people are such assholes that your feelings get hurt too often, too easy, too much. Better to be as cruel as the world or even more so and give worse than you get.
Believe me, I know of what I speak of.
David Schwimmer co-stars as Jay's best friend Max Abbitt, a sportscaster who's a womanizer who plays the field more than the teams reports on. A total creep and always with a dumb expression of his face, a self-satisfied drawl and his own cool-guy salutation: "What' up?" Always a toothpick and a "too cool" drawl dangling from his lip.
Mili Avital is unfortunately given the second-to-weakest developed character in the whole film. She's sweet, perky and photogenic... but nothing else, really. She and Lee could have some great chemistry if only the film allowed it. But this movie is written in a way that's so made-to-order, it's embarrassing.
Bonnie Hunt plays the narrator that is publishing Lee's book. She's also the narrator. Why does this movie need a narrator? The narration actually manages to make the movie even less suspenseful, if that's possible.
And Vanessa Angel, who broke through in TV's "Weird Science" and almost stole "Kingpin," is given the least interesting character. She plays a model and Jay's heartless ex-girlfriend who has dumped him and left him a pathetic neurotic mess. Hers is not a character, but a plot device. The heartless bitch who is so cruel and horrible to the sweet-hearted hero so more of our sympathy goes to him. I groaned at her scenes.
The movie's dialog is not always plot-driven or cutesy-poo, like most romantic comedies are (although sometimes it is).
Most of the script is written in an observational sit-com kind of way. Like "Seinfeld" or "Mad About You" (or yes, even "Friends"). But the dramatic/romantic scenes are embarrassingly maudlin.
Is it just me or is the entire cast of "Friends" been trying to mimic Kevin Smith?
* The Object of My Affection * Kissing A Fool * Three To Tango
Smith's groundbreaking romantic comedy "Chasing Amy" was revolutionary, insightful... and made big waves for Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, Lee and Smith himself. A romantic comedy, a sex comedy and a relationship story. Not merely a love story, but a life story.
Lately, Hollywood has been trying to make Smith-like slick Hollywood movies. So far, they failed terribly. Smith's movies are great because they are daring and avoid formulas. And they master the art of sparkling conversation. This film does neither. Nor do any of the other Kevin Smith-wannabes.
Lee's character has been through the ringer and things are looking bleaker. I really liked him here and felt for him. And identified with him more than I wanted to.
I knew guys like Max in high school, but in the outside world? Who knows? I was kind of like the Lee character myself. In a way, I still am. Too sensitive. Too easily vulnerable. Such a whipping boy. I did understand what Jay meant when he said, "You know, I wish I had your heart. Then I wouldn't have spent so many sleepless nights...."
The plot seems cruel and creepy, yet too sit-com-like at the same time. "Test my fiancée''s fidelity?" Almost seems like a sick ploy to throw Jay & Samantha together, doesn't it?
Oh wait, it is...
Anyone who has ever seen a movie will know what the ending will be. It's almost like waiting for the coyote to fall off the cliff.
Schwimmer's Max Abbit character seems to dumb and dull and annoying to be interesting. He must be sick of playing the same type ("The Pallbearer," "Six Days, Seven Nights" and TV's "Friends"), but this movie will do nothing for him. Still, at least he tried.
I kept (back in 1999 when I first saw this movie) seeing a mad Ross trying to be bad whenever I looked at him, but now looking back on it and putting Ross out of my head (I really dislike the show anyway), Schwimmer does an effective job... however he doesn't really have dimensions and depth.
He's just not an interesting womanizer. Apparently, a lot of Schwimmer fans felt confused by his role here.
It feels like Schwimmer wants to play someone completely different without risking losing his hard-core audience.
Schwimmer does do a much better job breaking typecasting in the forgettable "Since You've Been Gone" and the memorable "Band of Brothers."
MEMO TO Hollywood: If you're gonna keep making bad Kevin Smith-knockoffs, at lest quit putting "Friends" actors in them.
--Kissing Off This One, Dane Youssef