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Kissing Jessica Stein

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Kissing Jessica Stein

Starring: Jennifer Westfeldt, Heather Juergensen
Director: Charles Herman-Wurmfeld
Rated: R
RunTime: 96 Minutes
Release Date: April 2001
Genres: Comedy, Gay/Lesbian, Romance


*Also starring: David Aaron Baker, Scott Cohen, Tovah Feldshuh, Jackie Hoffman



Reviewer Roundup
1.  Harvey Karten review follows ---
2.  Steve Rhodes read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
3.  Edward Johnson-Ott read the review movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review

Review by Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied

"Kissing Jessica Stein" is a swiftly-paced, superficially sophisticated story bearing the firm New York imprint about young men and women living upper-middle-class lifestyles presumably from generous parental donations. The movie is thematically as Jewish as the Zabar's and H&H Bagels stores that zip by cinematographer Lawrence Sher's camera and bears the theatrical mark of the film writers' off-off Broadway play "Lipschtick" which inspired the movie.

The film is entertaining enough if you're in the light-and-fluffy mood and your cable reception is off, but we've seen it all before. Director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld parades the usual suspects: There's the stereotypical, octagenarian Jewish grandma who in the synagogue makes comments like "he has no sex appeal" and at a wedding reception later on comments that a woman is "flat chested." There are two gay guys who serve as advisers to a lesbian woman, calling her a "disgrace to the gay community" because she dates a woman who is straight. As the mother of the confused title figure, Judy Stein is your typical, well-to-do Jewish mother regularly trying to fix her daughter up with a nice guy, concerned that Jessica will be alone lest she connect with someone except that in this case the cliche is transcended by the one truly professional performer in this shoe-string budgeted movie, Tovah Feldshuh.

The woman whose life appears to change radically when she receives her first kiss from another of her own gender is Jessica Stein (Jennifer Westfeldt), a fast-talking, supposedly bright twenty-something who works in a publishing house, having been hired by a guy she dated for year, Josh Meyers (Scott Cohen). (Close your eyes and you're listening to Helen Hunt.) When her working pal in the next cube, the pregnant Joan (Jackie Hoffman), calls her attention to a woman-seeking- woman ad in the Village Voice, she is impressed because the advertiser quotes the philosopher Rainer Maria Rilke. Having gone through a succession of guys, all of whom are losers in their own particular ways, she reluctantly meets assistant art gallery director Helen Cooper (Heather Juergensen), and is seduced after receiving a long kiss in the street from her new companion. Though she appears happy in the relationship, there are hints that while the bisexual and sexually needy Helen knows who she is, Jessica is merely experimenting.

The tagline is right on target: "When it comes to love, sometimes she just can't think straight." The film, which was co- written by the actors Jennifer Westfeldt and Heather Juergensen, is too prosaic to match up to that line much less to evoke the imagination of a Rilke.

Copyright 2002 Harvey Karten

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