Just a Kiss (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Two couples socialize together regularly. One night of infidelity between two of the unconnected partners leads to tragedy after tragedy.

That tells you most of what you need to know.

Except that the film is a comedy.

Well, sort of a comedy. I suppose it depends on your definition of comedy. It wouldn't be one by my definition, which requires some laughs, but I suppose it would qualify by the definition in Aristotle's Poetics. It is about people "inferior to us", or people behaving "worse than they are".

Aristotle is one of the greatest thinkers in human existence, so I guess he has more right to define comedy than I do, but on the other hand, I'm guessing there aren't very many laughs on his web page.

Rumor has it that when Ari did stand-up in the Agora, his jokes bombed except when he made fun of Plato's toupee. And, to be frank, bald jokes are always too easy.


Idina Menzel shows one breast in an apres-sex scene.

Marisa Tomei shows what is theoretically most of her crotch when her lover turns his head at an angle that fails to cover her in a cunnilingus scene. I suppose it is probably just a patch or a thong or something. It is not possible to determine.

The movie is filled with quirks and gimmicks. Alternate reality, for one. The original reality is surreal to begin with, filled with coincidences that could not happen, behavior that doesn't seem to be possible, and even various violations of natural law. I suppose all of that is done in the interest of hip comedy. Heavy on the hip, light on the comedy. Unless you are Aristotle, catching up on your reading for a few centuries. The movie is then further mucked up by replaying moments, or even months of time. It wasn't always clear to me whether the action in the past was a flashback based on the "current" version of reality or the start of an alternate "what-if" version.

Would that replays were the only gimmick, but the director also decided, for no reason I could determine, to saturate and posterize various images. Sometimes he did this with an entire frame, sometimes with one person, sometimes only with a specific object or body feature. I was not able to determine the logic behind it. I think the thought process behind this affectation must follow the Penn Gillette theory of smoking. Penn (the big guy from Penn and Tiller) used to have a speech that went something like this - "Don't smoke, kids. It's bad for your breath. It's bad for your teeth. It's bad for your lungs. It is expensive, will ruin your social life, and it's just stupid, so don't do it. Unless, of course, you want to look really cool." The same reasoning seemed to inform the director's use of saturation and posterizing effects in this film. He had no sound logic behind it, but he thought it would look really cool, like the opening watercolor montages in Saturday Night Live.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85

It didn't.

In several instances, the direction didn't reinforce the comic intent very well. The humor was guided with a heavy hand, and the timing was off. There was one scene in particular, in which three people passed around a very tiny cell phone, that seemed to go on forever with no further point or joke to deliver after the first five seconds.

The Critics Vote

  • Roger Ebert 1/4

The People Vote ...

  • It grossed only $63,000, never reaching more than 21 screens. Its best weekend was $14,000 on 20 screens.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this film is a C-. Overall, it is a convoluted surrealistic comedy. I didn't think it was very funny, but I thought it had some good moments as an offbeat slice of life dramedy. Good moments, but no real sustaining value. I believe that Roger Ebert's "one star" was too harsh, but I didn't enjoy the film much either.

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