Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kissing a Fool Movie Review

First published in The Connecticut College Voice on 6 March 1998.
Republished here with minor editorial adjustments that do not affect content.

The main problems with Doug Ellin’s romantic comedy Kissing a Fool are that it is incredibly predictable and not funny. The film opens with a wedding between a woman, Sam, played by Israeli actress Mili Avital and a man whom we can not see. Bonnie Hunt is Sam’s boss as well as the hostess of the wedding. She sits down with a couple of schlumpy wedding guests and begins to tell the predictable story of how the bride and groom got together.

David Schwimmer plays Max Abbitt, a popular Chicago sportscaster and notorious womanizer. He and Jay (Jason Lee) are childhood best friends. Jay has been in mourning and without sex for a year due to his ex-girlfriend, Natasha, having broken his heart. Sam is his book editor and he introduces her to Max.  The two hit it off immediately and are engaged within two weeks. Max gets nervous about the prospect of being with only one woman for the rest of his life and enlists Jay to ‘test’ Sam. He wants Jay to seduce her to find out if she would be loyal. When Sam’s boss pushes up their deadline, the two have to spend a lot more time together and Jay’s affection for Sam begins to surface.


Schwimmer plays his character as the polar opposite of Ross Geller. He uses the ‘f’ word whenever possible and overuses his character’s television catch phrase “What up?” Lee wonderfully mastered his character in Amy, but in this case he falls short.  He never quite convinces me that he is truly heartbroken. To his credit, though, most of the funny moments in the film can be attributed to him. We never get a sense of the lifelong friendship between Jay and Max. For all I could tell, they may have met each other six months ago. There is no history between them that is brought out. The only way we know they’ve known each other for so long is through the narration and a couple of quick references made by Jay and Max. They spend so much of the movie yelling at each other that I wish I could tell them to be quiet so my headache would go away.

The lack of character development is another big problem. These characters are one dimensional and about as bland as Kenny G performing at a techno club. There is Max, the insensitive, unfaithful, foul-mouthed, toothpick chewing, thinks-Australia-is-a-country-in-Europe, nimrod. Then there is Jay, the sensitive, broken hearted, finding love in the wrong places, nice boy. Finally Sam, who is given no characteristics other than being a book editor. Max does, however, achieve a lame sort of spiritual awakening after reading his first piece of literature and discovering a little something about love.

The funniest moments in the film occur in the first ten minutes. I admit that I laughed out loud. After that the jokes run dry just like the plot and the characters.  The other funny parts are when we flash forward to Hunt’s narration. Unfortunately these breaks didn’t help the continuity of the film in the least. It is so predictable within five minutes of the opening credits who Sam will be married to at the end of the film, but honestly, who cares by then?

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