DVD Review
Just a Kiss
Just a Kiss poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published March 17, 2003
US Release: September 27, 2002

Directed by: Fisher Stevens
Starring: Kyra Sedgwick , Ron Eldard , Patrick Breen , Marisa Tomei

R
Running Time: 89 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $64,000
C+
66 of 143
Loses energy and potential by telling more stories than it can operate
Just a Kiss isn?t all that bad (as critics suggested it was), but it?s got its share of problems.

Marketed as a light romantic comedy, the film is more so a drama about relationships with dark humor undertones but is actually holding some pretty funny spots.

One of the film?s bigger dilemmas in plot is that it attempts to cover too many stories in its 85 minute running time. It jumps from one relationship to the next and ones intertwining with one another, but the script doesn?t allow heavy thought and focus in every fable in order to really engage ourselves to level that would be considered appropriate. All in all, there were two people I was genuinely interested in due to their performances, but felt as though the movie would?ve been much better if it was more of a concentrated piece on these specific individuals rather than the large group it tries to accomplish. The script seems to know a few of its characters really well but doesn?t totally strive for complexity with other personas, making the film somewhat of a mixed bag but in general not a bad rental.
Just a Kiss surrounds a group of friends who are struggling in relationships; the theme, relating to the title, focuses on what a simple kiss can result in. While the script itself really doesn?t tackle that topic to any high marks, what the story does do is hand over a few reasonably constructed figures, some occasionally clever dialogues, and a few moments of genuinely funny material; the results? Nothing too exciting, but it fills in an 85 minute time gap for anybody who demands some sort of engagement in a story other than their own life.

The problem I ran into with this feature is that it has somewhat of an ensemble cast yet for such a short film, that isn?t exactly a bright route to travel. Kyra Sedgwick is one of the best actors here giving in to a performance that lets her run off an easily endurable charm, but the material handed over is not exactly solid or strong rooted. In a sense, she?s doing well with not a whole lot in store, thus proving her talent.

Peter Breen is another actor who I thought was really pulling off a bold execution, and not in the daring angle, but more of an on-screen presence that really cues into his acting talent. He doesn?t have to spew dialogue to garner our engagement; his eye glances and overall stance suggests that he?s aware of the components of acting. It?s a serious yet slightly comical and confident appearance that makes us want to watch him and just observe. He?s more of a curiosity figure where we want to see what he does or says next. In this instance, the casting was really well executed and the substance written for him well established; this is perhaps the most well crafted character within the premise.

Taye Diggs is the other performer who really surprised me here. What came to my attention throughout the duration of the movie was the self-assurance he maintains, and how he rarely ever sustains this presence in an average picture. Diggs is very sure of his role and speaks the dialogues with this sense of control and confidence that made me question why he doesn?t ever use this talent more often. Granted, his delivery in Chicago was rather there in execution despite his very brief appearances, but otherwise I?ve never seen this side of him before. He comes across as the hidden actor a la Adam Sandler who may not be playing roles that justify the gems of his inner self, but once the real roots become visible there is a shock of finally seeing the sincerity come to play. After viewing Diggs here, it makes me anticipate a more serious role of his in the future, if not just one of complex foundation because he can evidently handle one beautifully.

Though Marisa Tomei, Ron Eldard, and Marley Shelton share their reasonable moments on screen, their characters are not as likable as Zegwick, Breen, and Diggs, as their role breakdowns are not too in depth and don?t permit us to connect with them on any great level. As mentioned earlier, these are more so minor players who I would rather have seen dismissed in the plot and seen the screenwriter focus his attention on the three other more significant figures. Tomei and clan are missing a page in background that needs to be present in order for viewer satisfaction or commitment to be settled, and unfortunately due to the restricted running time this turns out to be more of a crucial dilemma within its plot structure.

Just a Kiss could?ve been a fairly strong character piece if more concentration and confidence with its main players were inserted, but instead loses energy and potential by telling more stories than it can operate. It?s one of those rather frustrating examples where you?d really like to experience a tale about a few of the lives intertwined, but instead we?re given an overload of substance with too much of it just leftovers that aren?t too worthy of our attention. The film is entertaining to a point, but it doesn?t exactly do the job in the ways of an absolutely easygoing experience.

The dark comedy also mixes animation into the bunch that appears a bit out of place and only present for the "Hey, that?s neat" factor. This element of the story takes a bit of enjoyment away, as it also questions whether the director had any conviction of the premise itself being tolerating on its own. The animation doesn?t add any oomph to the experience, as it is purely a question mark presence that isn?t even sure why it is displaying to begin with. Just a Kiss is mildly amusing and relatively engaging, but confuses itself a little bit when trying to pinpoint why exactly all these characters are in fact in front of us.
Lee's Grade: C+
Ranked #66 of 143 between Spider-Man (#65) and The Truth About Charlie (#67) for 2002 movies.
Lee's Overall Grading: 2960 graded movies
A0.4%
B29.7%
C61.9%
D8.1%
F0.0%
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