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JUST A KISS

Review by Chastity Campbell

Stars: Taye Diggs, Ron Eldard, Kyra Sedgwick, Marley Shelton, Marisa Tomei, Patrick Breen
Director: Fisher Stevens
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital
Video: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen Format
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 90 Minutes
Release Date: March 18, 2003

“This is going to be one of those terrible mistakes, one of those kind that you can’t take back!”

“Are there any other kind?!”

Film **

Have you ever been asked the question, “If you could change one thing in your life what would it be and why?”  I have and my standard answer has always been “Nothing, because I like who and where I am and changing something would alter that!”   The movie Just A Kiss takes that question, to a whole new cinematic level!

Just A Kiss is a story that revolves around three friends and the people they meet while looking for love, mostly in all the wrong places.  

Dag (Ron Eldard) is a television commercial director who at the start of the movie is dating Halley (Kyra Sedgwick) a pretty, pouty, videographer.  Peter (Patrick Breen) is an actor whose career thus far has consisted of dressing up like a bald eagle in a military helmet and selling peanut butter in a commercial ad directed by Dag and shot by Halley.  Peter is dating the sometimes, schizophrenic ballerina Rebecca who routinely tries to kill herself. 

This might be a little hard to follow folks but if you pay close attention, you just might make it!  And we’re off…Dag meets up with Rebecca after one of her ballet shows in Belgium and they share a kiss, and a one-night stand.  Rebecca tries to kill herself, but sometimes there just aren’t enough sleeping pills left to do the job right!  She’s distraught and fesses up to what she and Dag did.  Halley is pissed, Peter runs off, and Dag ends up at a bowling alley drunk.  

I wish things had remained that simple!   Halley ends up at Rebecca’s apartment because she doesn’t have anywhere to go.  Andre(Taye Diggs) a philosophical, cellist/friend/lover of Rebecca’s shows up at the apartment because of a fight with his wife, so naturally, he and Halley end up in the sack.  Meanwhile, Peter is heartbroken and hops a first class flight to LA to get away from it all.  The service on this jet is A+ because not only does Peter get his drink immediately he joins the mile high club with a stewardess.  A stewardess who just happens to be Andre the cellist’s Wife.  

Back in Manhattan, a bowling alley waitress who is obsessed with Peter’s peanut butter commercials has overheard what Dag did to his best buddy!  No one messes with her chicken man, so she leads Dag on and back to her apartment.  

Now while this movie was definitely entertaining, the completely unbelievable story line is a bitter pill to try and swallow…just ask Rebecca!    I enjoyed the interwoven storylines but when the airplane Peter is on crash lands and the first class cabin tears away from the rest of the airplane without harming a single hair on Pete’s head, even I began to wonder how much worse it was going to get!

What I really liked about this film and what made it unique was the blend of traditional filming and animation effects.  In one scene for example, Marisa Tomei is wearing a nightie and holding a riding crop in her hand.   They used an effect that covered her entire image with animation.  This effect was used quite liberally throughout the entire movie.   I really enjoyed the way it highlighted certain high and low points in each characters’ progression.  With a plot line so thin you can see through it, the effects added a little fun to the movie, and helped hold my attention for the entire ninety minutes.  

The acting in this one?  Well, let’s just say when the envelope is opened, the Oscar will not go to anyone associated with this movie.  However, I have to say Marisa Tomei plays her character of Paula with such a charming, witty, yet dangerous edge, that I can’t help comparing her to Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate! 

When all is said and done, three people are dead and number four is just around the bend.   Then again fate has a way of stepping in and saying what if, so let’s give our characters a much needed break and rewind them to a specific point in the movie and ask pose the question, “what would have happened if a kiss truly was Just A Kiss, and nothing more?”

Video ***

I really enjoyed watching this movie.   The digital quality on this disc was, crisp, clean and refreshing!  Presented in a 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format, Just A Kiss is a prime example of what a good digital transfer ought to be.  

The special animation effects on this disc were reminiscent of the Take On Me video by the group Aha in the mid 80’s.  Vibrantly colored, but never too hot on the color meter, each character or prop that was accented with animation was always nicely balanced with the other real objects in the scene.  Each and every image was sharp and clean, without any visible flaws. 

 Audio **

This Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix’s levels seemed to bounce around quite a bit through most of the movie.  There were no obvious digital clipping or distortion errors; however, the background effects and music did tend to overwhelm the dialogue a bit. 

Don’t get me wrong; this disc isn’t a total loss in the audio department.  But considering the capabilities of production companies today this one is middle of the road at best.  

Features ½*

Interactive menus, and English subtitles are the only thing hiding in this disc’s closet.  Which makes me think Just A Kiss is more like a peck on the cheek when it comes to features!

Summary:

You must remember, this, a kiss is Just A Kiss, and leave it at that…things get too complicated otherwise!  Pop this one in and you get a whole lot of wackiness, mixed with a morbidly funny plot, yet it remains entertaining till the end.  You’ll have a ball sorting it all out when you bring Just A Kiss home on DVD!