Monday, September 18, 2006


Zach Braff wants to represent my generation. And if he would do so accurately, I may just let him. I would even chip in for a Zach Braff Represents My Generation commemorative jacket if only he would nail aimless-and-conflicted more effectively.

After having viewed an advanced screening of Garden State and feeling emotionally manipulated by the belabored profundity, I had very little desire to see The Last Kiss or hear its college dormitory-esque soundtrack. But then I heard the premise:

"Braff is Michael, a man-child teetering on the brink of his 30th birthday and staring down the barrel of adulthood...he is the poster child for a particular kind of extended adolescence.

Michael is thrown for a rather spectacular loop, along with his plans to remain unattached and ironic for the rest of his life."

I related to the character's man-childness and was sitting in his first class seat staring into the loaded barrel of adulthood. I was intrigued. Maybe Garden State was meaningless and trite to me because I was not its intended audience. With this perspective in mind, I went to see The Last Kiss on Saturday night. While I wasn't disappointed, I also did not walk out with deeper sense of self.

But first; Years ago, I worked with Jill, one of Braff's childhood best friends, in an ad agency for a few years. Jill would talk about her friend Zach who was living out in Los Angeles and taking random, small roles in independent films in the hopes of getting noticed. I know that Braff worked quite hard, even taking a minor role in Broken Hearts Club, or what one critic called, "a gay version of Steel Magnolias."

After years spent waitering tables, taking auditions, and along with the success of his television show Scrubs and Garden State, Braff finally had the freedom to chose his next project, but why The Last Kiss?

"One of the reasons I wanted to do this movie was it was so refreshing. It was real," said Braff. "It was like a human being that f***s up, that makes mistakes, that does a dumb thing. Don't we all? Don't we all have things that we wake up the next day and go, "Oh, I'm such an idiot. Yeah, you're gonna f***in' regret that tomorrow.? You know what I mean?"

Without giving too much away, Braff's Michael cheats on his girlfriend Jenna in a fit of panic when he realizes that after Jenna haves his baby, he'll be locked into adulthood forever. Only after making the mistake of sleeping with a college sophomore (Rachel Bilsson) does Michael realize that he loves Jenna unconditionally. It's preposterous but the movie suggests that Michael's slip into infidelity may have even helped him commit to the woman carrying his baby.

Miryam thinks that the movie serves as a cinematic Rorsharch test. Different people walk out with different lessons. She felt that Michael and Jenna made the mistake of being together. I walked out thinking, well, relationships are hard. You need to work at them. And preemtively embracing your mistakes, or your "real," as Braff says, as an inevitably felt so wrong and ugly.

During one scene in the movie, Bilsson's character posits that time is moving so quickly these days that our lives are on constant fast-forward bringing us to our respective mid-life crisis that much sooner. While this idea is possible, it also justifies our cowardice and lack of commitment. My generation's main problem is this baseless belief that relationships are easy and effortless. Maybe it's because we were raised during an outpouring of unrealistic romantic comedies and magical musicals where love is a song. But reality is, when two people with two completely different pasts and philosophies comes together, assuredly, there will be bumps to iron out. Out of the many ideas that The Last Kiss conveys, only one spoke true; realtionships are wonderful but they're also sometimes scary. Or they're wonderfulscary. And when we're prepared to accept this dichotomy as a harmony, maybe movies like The Last Kiss wouldn't feel so real to Braff or his generation. Whichever one he's representing.


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