With its old-fashioned songs and its bright, picture postcard perfect
cinematography, Charles Herman-Wurmfeld's KISSING JESSICA STEIN is a
traditional romantic comedy but with a twist.
Jessica Stein (Jennifer Westfeldt) is a cute 28-year-old copy editor who
strikes out with date after date. "I'd like to represent you as your
accountant and your boyfriend, if that's possible," one of her more nerdy
dates tells her. Her boss, Josh Meyers (Scott Cohen), might seem a logical
candidate if they didn't put so much negative energy into their bickering
version of flirting.
One day, the nervous and high-strung Jessica decides on a lark to try
something completely different. She answers an intriguing ad in the
personals section of The Village Voice. Here comes the twist. The ad is in
the woman-seeking-woman section of the paper. The ad was placed by an
adventuresome, bi-curious female named Helen Cooper (Heather Juergensen).
Helen is as free a spirit as Jessica is conservative. Helen, who wants to
try everything and often, mockingly refers to Jessica as a "Jewish Sandra
Their first date almost never happens since Jessica runs out in an absolute
panic. When their relationship, many dates later, finally gets physical,
they are like a couple of young teens kissing for the first time. These
scenes, full of giddy awkwardness, are the movie at its best. Although
Helen would be happy to wear a "Want to be a Lesbian? Ask me how." button,
Jessica stays as hidden in the back of the closet as possible. When the
weather forces them to stay overnight with Jessica's mother, Judy (Tovah
Feldshuh), Judy says that they will have to sleep together in Jessica's old
room. Once in bed together for the first time in Jessica's childhood bed,
their rush of erotic excitement is palpable. "I feel like we're going to be
grounded," Helen confesses to Jessica.
After several false starts, the movie finally finds an ending that works.
This comedy of manners and romance is a charmer that should have broad
cross-over appeal to audiences, gay and straight.
KISSING JESSICA STEIN runs 1:34. It is rated R for "sexual content and
language" and would be acceptable for most teenagers.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes