|Juergensen and Westfeldt|
|Jon Hamm in a brief, early role|
With such barriers as class, wealth, race, and reputation mostly irrelevant in modern romantic comedy, Kissing Jessica Stein finds its conflict in the 21st-century obstacle of sexual preference. For despite how perfect the two women seem together, their relationship is threatened by Jessica's fear of making their private life public—what will her family and friends think?—as well as her own ambivalence toward dating a woman. At the same time her boss, a college ex played with simmering self-loathing by Scott Cohen, finds himself intrigued by this newer, happier Stein, even if he, like everyone else, has no idea Jessica's new beau is a belle. Complications, as expected, ensue, as do some surprisingly emotional moments, including one standout with Tovah Feldshuh as Jessica's mom (tears will be jerked).
|Yes, Mom, we'll behave|
Certainly the premise of the film is less of a novelty now, 12 years later, but what keeps Kissing Jessica Stein fresh—and above the level of a sitcom—is its lively, off-center performances, verbal wit, and an infectious generosity of spirit. The two women—along with director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld—play fair with the film's characters, giving each a believable mix of virtues and flaws (including most of the men). Is it politically correct and 100% Gay Community Approved? I'm not one to say. But with its comforting, old-fashioned soundtrack, sharp cinematography, and the undeniable chemistry between its leads, it's a film even a young Woody would be proud of. Especially the girls kissing part.
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